Tag Archives: hardware

Reusing computer system’s heat – Grey Energy?

Computer systems generate a lot of heat. There is great effort to remove that heat using passive or active systems (fans, pipes, etc). There are also many efforts to design cooler systems.

I wonder if this excess heat can also be reused. Somewhat like “grey water” systems reuse some types of water in a home. The amount available is huge. Imagine reusing the heat energy from Google server farms.

I won’t state that this is possible; invariably, such statements tend to be demolished after simple analysis, for example, the cost to capture and reuse the heat energy may be too high or have a low ratio. Anyway, just a thought.

Re-posted from http://jbetancourt.blogspot.com/2006/03/reusing-computer-systems-heat-grey.html on March 5, 2006.

Updates
June 21, 2013: So, I wasn’t far off. Some company is doing exactly this. “Iceotope plans to revolutionise the traditional data centre”, While transferring and re-using heat to power other devices.

July 17, 2013: An example of novel ideas being wrong is pedestrian generated electricity. I read one article a while back that described this ingenious idea of using pedestrians walking on a platform that would transform very small deformations into electricity. These could be put in stairs and other places. Well, an engineer analyzed this and found that the generated would have been minuscule, not worth doing.

April 20, 2014: Surprising material could play huge role in saving energy: Tin selenide is best at converting waste heat to electricity

Links

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Hierarchical Storage Management, from drive to cloud

Years ago I came upon the HSM concept. Is this now applicable in today’s networked world for personal use? I propose HSM can be extended to encompass the Cloud.

HSM is an enterprise data storage technique, a tiered storage. Data is automatically moved from expensive but fast storage systems like hard disk arrays to cheaper but slower systems like optical or tape drive.

Conceptually, HSM is analogous to the cache found in most computer CPUs, where small amounts of expensive SRAM memory running at very high speeds is used to store frequently used data, but the least recently used data is evicted to the slower but much larger main DRAM memory when new data has to be loaded. — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchical_storage_management

In the consumer world we have in our PCs fast hard drives and on mobile devices fast flash memory. A simple two tiered system would migrate least recently used files from local media to the cloud. In the home or SOHO environment, a three-tiered system is possible. Solid-State Drives (SSD) of modest size could be the 1st tier, SATA disk the 2nd, and finally, Cloud services can provide the 3rd tier.

For example, you have a PDF on your system that is a great resource, but you haven’t used it in a few weeks. The HSM manager would take that file and move it to the cloud (secure, private, encrypted, …., of course). In its place, to allow access by the user, is a link to the HSM managed storage location. Next time you use the file it will be migrated back to the local storage (but now also backed up in the cloud).

This is really an application of “file virtualization“.

Note that the HSM in enterprise systems is not simply based on “files” but on the underlying storage mumbo jumbo (frames, and all that).

This approach could make the potential future Windows 8 ‘Storage Spaces’ be even more useful. On *nix OS this is possible to implement now. It probably already is.

Demo
Here is a conceptual demo. We’ll use a known cloud storage service provider like Dropbox. As far as I know, Dropbox does not offer HSM.

On your PC you set a property on various folders that makes them eligible for HSM monitoring. This could be accomplished using a GUI and drag&drop. The HSM will immediately copy the folders to the SSD on your system or the main hard drive, if the files are not already on the fastest subsystem. In the original location of the folders, a link to the new locations will be created (soft links?). The end user will not see any difference. Kind of like “web folders” or WebDAV protocol.

After a period of time, the local HSM monitor will record which files have not been used and invoke the Dropbox local service to stream the files to the cloud. All that remains on the file system are links to the remote files; storage space is reclaimed.

Updates
Feb 26, 2012: Another company will be competing with DropBox. As above it allows the user to designate specific folders to participate in cloud storage. Since remote files will be slower to access, this company will attempt to “predict” which files would be used more often. See this article.

Further Reading

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Dual-Screen, E-book Reader, Hyperlinking Text with Multimedia

“I would have made it into more of a a larger appointment book or day planner form factors.  It would come in ”

Wrote this a while ago.  Was in my drafts list.

Dual-Screen, E-book Reader, Hyperlinking Text with Multimedia

via Spring Design.   Now that is a relatively good design. Reminds me of the rumored B&N “Nook” reader.

I would have made it into more of a a larger appointment book or day planner form factors.  It would come in three sizes:

  • Pocket (89 x 165mm)
  • Journal (140 x 216mm)
  • Notebook (216 x 280mm)

These sizes and names are based on the Day-Timer product line.  Here is their size help page.  The ebook would open like a traditional planner and the left side would contain the Electronic Paper Display (EPD) and the right the LCD display.  The spine would have the smart buttons like another rumored e-book.

I think I agree with commentators that Apple will probably comes out with a real contender if they produce a tablet system.  Though this is not a given since the Android based systems will invariably grow into various form factors.  Reminiscent of the ubiquitous PC design despite Mac’s allegedly being better designs.   See this post:  “Large-Screen Kindle Won’t Mean Squat if Apple Tablet Arrives“.

Update, 1/27/2010: The iPad from Apple is out.  It is beautiful!  Supports EPub standard and Apple will open an IBookstore.  This changes the mobile market.   Here is a sample add on youtube.

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