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Nuke Site Converted Into Green Data Center

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the glowing-data dept.

The Internet 125

1sockchuck writes "If you had 100,000 servers, would you put them on top of a former nuclear fuel facility? One of the world's largest web hosts, 1&1 Internet, is building a new data center on a site in Hanau, Germany previously used by Siemens to produce mixed oxide rods made from enriched uranium and plutonium. The site has been cleaned up, and 1&1 is converting it into a 'green' data center powered by renewable energy and using free cooling to save on air conditioning costs."

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sssss (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745471)

I cant hear the name Siemens without giggling

Barney Frank wants your Semens in his tummy! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745899)

Bwast those wascally Wepubwicans!

Re:sssss (5, Funny)

Soruk (225361) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746609)

There were reasons they moved their UK operations from Staines (Middlesex).

Re:sssss (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747403)

Awesome!

Even if that isn't true, what a great gag!

Re:sssss (2, Funny)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747589)

Gag on Siemens?

Re:sssss (2, Informative)

Soruk (225361) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748111)

A bit out of date [cylex-uk.co.uk] but found from a quick google for "Siemens Staines Middlesex".

Re:sssss (2, Funny)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747397)

especially when rods are mentioned in the same sentence *teeheehee*

Re:sssss (1)

michelcultivo (524114) | more than 5 years ago | (#25749551)

"We can do that"

ECC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745475)

I hope they are using ECC...

Re:ECC (2, Interesting)

daedae (1089329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747611)

That was my thought... soft errors in general may or may not be an actual problem worth considering (although I know lots of people research solutions, so somebody must believe in it)... but if you're on top of a site which probably still has active radiation, I'd think it would be a bigger issue.

1&1 (5, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745491)


1&1? They should worry more about where they site their customer service! I was with them for a while and when they screwed up my billing it took a long, long time to untangle the mess. Mainly because the different departments were all sited in different places and none had the authority to do what needed to be done to sort it out. 1&1 - hateful, money-grubbing company. Thank you, rant over. I will now pay the karma hit with pleasure. :)

Re:1&1 (2, Insightful)

andy19 (1250844) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745619)

Mainly because the different departments were all sited in different places and none had the authority to do what needed to be done to sort it out.

I always thought this was standard among all customer service departments.

Re:1&1 (2)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746495)

1&1? They should worry more about where they site their customer service!

They outsource their customer service to the Philippines if I remember correctly. If you want to speak to someone who knows English, call their sales line. I interviewed for them and I can say I wouldn't want anything to do with them.

Re:1&1 (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25749593)

I have had absolutely no trouble with 1&1, they've been my host for about 4 years. If you're dealing with a customer service rep in any industry that doesn't have the authority to do what needs to be done, then you have to ask to speak to someone who does. It's a shame you're missing out on a great service provider because you didn't make a painfully obvious request.

Green power (5, Informative)

askanis42 (1138835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745501)

1&1 is also using "green" power generated from wind, water and solar energy for their datacenters and office buildings. see: (German only) http://www.1und1.info/xml/order/popupGruenerStrom [1und1.info]

Re:Green power (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745509)

Does "green" power mean yellow power?

Re:Green power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745525)

Does "green" power mean yellow power?

If that's the case, then I have just the man that you need to speak to. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Green power (1)

askanis42 (1138835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745593)

In Germany, "Yello(w) power" would mean something different: look here [yellostrom.de] .
Yello Strom is an electricity provider which generates a good share of its electricity with nuclear power plants or other fossil fuels...

Re:Green power (4, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745697)

In the U.S., it means yellow power means 'powered by Mountain Dew'.

Re:Green power (2, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746549)

In the U.S., it means yellow power means 'powered by Mountain Dew'.

So that's what they feed the hamsters on the wheels?

Re:Green power, a datacenter here in US too! (2, Informative)

jeremie (257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747091)

We also already have one of these in the US, a decommissioned underground facility converted to an ultra-secure datacenter with green power, http://usshc.com/ [usshc.com] who also hosts a number of open source projects like http://jabber.org/ [jabber.org] and has stellar service and commodity rates.

Re:Green power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25749067)

Are they on a seperate electrical grid? If not, then really their power probably comes from whatever power plants are closest.

Cleaned up? (5, Interesting)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745505)

The site has been cleaned up

Oddly enough, TFA says nothing about the site being cleaned up.

Re:Cleaned up? (2, Funny)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745555)

Well, only one way to find out. Grab your nuclear gear, we're going on vacation!

Cleaned up?-Unmanned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745601)

Hopefully it's a "lights out" facility.

Re:Cleaned up?-Unmanned. (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745809)

Surely! The servers already glow green!

Re:Cleaned up?-Unmanned. (1)

badran (973386) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748461)

You see you will know that your servers are secure if tech support has to wear hazmat suites to service them.

Re:Cleaned up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746155)

These fuel facilities do not need to be "cleaned up" like you might be imagining with a real nuclear site. There is not a huge risk of radiation, and people inside them do not even wear radiation suits. Nuclear fuel goes into rod's in the form of small round pellets--not liquid that could spew everywhere. So there is not a serious risk even if a pellet or two managed to stay behind, which is highly doubtful considering quality control in these places (they don't want to lose them because of money).

In other words, to clean up the place as implied, it simply means that all of the equipment was removed.

Amusingly, my CAPTCHA code was "nucleus" when I tried submitting this.

Re:Cleaned up? (4, Funny)

beav007 (746004) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746351)

Oddly enough, TFA says nothing about the site being cleaned up.

This statement seems odd to me. How do you know this?

Big deal. Call me when they can do the reverse ... (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745513)

... and convert a Green Data Center into a Nuke Site.

THAT would be news.

Re:Big deal. Call me when they can do the reverse (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745933)

I suppose there are few evil people working on this right now. They probably do not mean data centres only either.

Slashdot effect (2, Funny)

DrYak (748999) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746301)

... and convert a Green Data Center into a Nuke Site.

Well do you think a Data Center looks like, once simultaneously hit by slashdot and a bot net ?

This has been done before. Repeatedly.

Re:Big deal. Call me when they can do the reverse (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746317)

We could try to convert it back by slashdotting the data center.

Green Power! (4, Funny)

dkf (304284) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745533)

When they said "Green Power", did they prefix it with "Glowing"?

Nice summary (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745541)

Does anyone else get the feeling that the summary wants us to react in a certain way?
Would you put your servers on the NUKELEURZ? WOULD YOU!?

I'm not feeling the fear here.

Re:Nice summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745575)

What I would really be scared of is if the data center was built on top of an old beer garden. Then you'd have these old German guys showing up for liter beers wanting to party, and when they find out that you're now a data center - oh, boy! Gimme the nukes, please!

Re:Nice summary (1)

nevillethedevil (1021497) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745683)

Better an old nuke site than an old Pet Semetary [imdb.com]

Re:Nice summary (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745921)

Does anyone else get the feeling that the summary wants us to react in a certain way? Would you put your servers on the NUKELEURZ? WOULD YOU!?

Yeah...
I wonder if there's more radiation than normal?

Does anybody know if could be bad for the servers, chips etc...
I'm sure they wont die immediately, but I wouldn't be surprised if radiation is bad for todays frail processors...

Re:Nice summary (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748489)

I wonder if there's more radiation than normal?

Does anybody know if could be bad for the servers, chips etc...

I'm sure they wont die immediately, but I wouldn't be surprised if radiation is bad for todays frail processors...

They made nuclear fuel rods here. Uranium and Plutonium. Both alpha emitters. Alpha particles can be stopped by a sheet of notebook paper. Or the paint on the walls of your datacenter. Or the tiles on the floor of your datacenter. Or even the cases that your servers are in.

So, no, there's not more radiation than normal.

So what? Why is this a front page story? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745551)

It's a data center.
It's a former nuke producing facility.
It's green.

Is there anything to see here?

Re:So what? Why is this a front page story? (4, Funny)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745705)

because we beat Digg to it!

Re:So what? Why is this a front page story? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745803)

Let me be the first to say:

w000000000000tttt!!! w3 r0x0rz!!!!

Wha?

Huh, Digg. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745815)

If this were on Digg, the headline would be "Data Center Built on Toxic Nuclear Death Swamp"

Then, you would see plenty of post that are dugg +300 saying how stupid they are, it's all Bush's fault, and Obama will fix everything.

You would also see comments that are burried -300 asking what's the big deal if they cleaned it up; nuclear, especially with today's technology is a viable energy source, and Bush had nothing to do with it.

Re:So what? Why is this a front page story? (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746895)

I still think an LSD lab [cnn.com] is a better use of a missile silo. God bless William Pickard, and all those who risk their freedom to enrich the lives of so many.

Surely not first post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745563)

Well, wooot!

Re:Surely not first post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745795)

FAIL

Does it come with a no-Stalagman warranty? (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745589)

And what's their plan to deal with the Deep Crows [penny-arcade.com] ?

creators newclear power=more accurate data (-1, Offtopic)

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Yes, but will it be powered by (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745597)

Fission Batteries?

"Free" Cooling very economical (3, Interesting)

splutty (43475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745603)

I've read quite a bit about this whole idea of free cooling, and as far as I've been able to conclude, the basic premise is that the replacement cost for failures very much outweighs the costs for cooling it properly.

If you realize that the last decade or so, most components can easilly be overclocked with proper cooling, and will function quite well in a wide range of temperatures, it's not hard to imagine that operating temperatures of anywhere between -10C and +40C are generally fine for most equipment.

The only thing that would be affected, in the sense of less cleaning of air, would be movable parts components, like harddisks, fans, etc.

With the prices on HDDs and the ease of use and availability of any sort of RAID configuration you can think of, the actual costs for replacing these parts when they fail, could very well be a fraction of the costs that would be required to make them function 'properly'.

All in all it seems an economically very viable option, with the added advantage of using a lot less energy overall.

Re:"Free" Cooling very economical (1, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745659)

With the prices on HDDs and the ease of use and availability of any sort of RAID configuration you can think of, the actual costs for replacing these parts when they fail, could very well be a fraction of the costs that would be required to make them function 'properly'.

Even if the hard disks were FREE, the cost of replacing them, both in downtime, and in labor, and in higher risk of cascading failures (second drive fails when restoring a raid5, requiring a full restore from backups), are more than the cost of proper cooling.

Re:"Free" Cooling very economical (2, Insightful)

partenon (749418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746009)

Depends on your needs. If you have a big company, with tons of servers working in a distributed cluster, then one server can completely fail without having any hit on the performance of the services. And as failures are exceptional cases, those big companies prefer to have failures in some specific components/machines than to have to pay a far higher energy bill.

But if you have the "traditional setup", with tons of machines, each of them responsible for a specific system/application, then of course: if anything in one machine fails, that machine (and everything running on it) will break.

Re:"Free" Cooling very economical (2, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747505)

Have you ever actually looked at the FULL cost of proper cooling? Not just the AC units, but the power draw, the labor to keep the parts running, and filters clean, the HUGE generators to keep these large AC systems running when the power goes out? More than half of most datacenters generators and UPS load is for cooling. You can buy a ton of hard drives for the cost of a 1MW diesel generator.

Re:"Free" Cooling very economical (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747749)

The cost of the hard drives is irrelevant. It's the data that's on them that counts. The bigger the drive in a raid, the more likely that the raid will fail during restoration, meaning you don't want to make it even less likely to be restorable because you're running the drives way too hot. But since you're running the drives way too hot, you need to build out extra redundancy, which also costs, both in capital costs, and in energy. TINSTAAFL.

Re:"Free" Cooling very economical (1)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 5 years ago | (#25750049)

TINSTAAFL.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Re:"Free" Cooling very economical (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748269)

Even if the hard disks were FREE, the cost of replacing them, both in downtime, and in labor, and in higher risk of cascading failures (second drive fails when restoring a raid5, requiring a full restore from backups), are more than the cost of proper cooling.

This is assuming that "proper cooling" actually extends the life of the drive significantly past that of "improper cooling". And truthfully, I can't say that observational experience or my limited reading on the subject backs such an assumption.

Proper cooling might make a "60 month" drive last 62 months and less cooling might mean it only lasts 58. Or they might both have drives that drop dead at the 8 month mark.

Re:"Free" Cooling very economical (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748985)

... or you might be stuck with those Chinese "Maxtorgates" that have a worse than 50% DOA, which solves the problem ...

Shortsighted (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747593)

These guys think they are so smart, but if they hadn't cleaned up the site, they could have had free heating too.

One of the world's largest webhosts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745639)

I've never, ever heard about this company. Never have I even seen an ad with their name on.

Also, yes, I'm sure it will be very "green" - everyone knows the greenest way is to build and consume more, more, more and more. I'd like some details on the mention of this supposed use of "100% renewable energy".

Re:One of the world's largest webhosts? (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745831)

Just another massively-over-selling, no-customer-service rock bottom webhost for people who want a brochure site and not much more, as far as I can see. Nothing special about them...

Re:One of the world's largest webhosts? (3, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745871)

They're mainly European and if my previous history with them is anything to go by, they're a fly-by-night, domains-and-hosting-for-£1 outfit that has little or no technical acumen and is mainly for small business or mass-domain sales direct to personal customers.

I once had a dedicated "root" Linux server with them which I never got working for its intended purpose because their initial setup was dire (outdated Plesk, kernel, Apache, etc. all with serious remotely-exploitable security flaws), their support was atrocious (wouldn't even know what Apache was half the time and their answer to everything was "you have a dedicated server, you do it" unless you were asking them to reboot and even then you had to fight). Which wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for the fact that the supplied server came with insecure software by default (and I'm talking about several-year-old flaws) and the only available updates (specially hosted on their privately-accesible servers only to dedicated customers, including updates to the pay-for software and part of the support contract) for their customised-kernel/userspace/Plesk etc. specifically said not to install them AT ALL without actual physical access (one specifically mentioned "DO NOT DO THIS VIA SSH", which was the only access I had).

Their dedicated server support line couldn't understand the problem, wanted me to just run it anyway (they charged for rebuilds), refused to do anything more than reboot if it went wrong (and the nature of the update specified that if it went wrong, a simple reboot would do NOTHING because it updated so much stuff), refused to supply a server with a newer image or to upgrade it, and sometimes couldn't even understand simple technical terms. So I had a choice - run a high-power, high-bandwidth, Internet-facing server with well-known, long-established serious security flaws in all the important software (and suffer their charges if the server was compromised and started spewing spam), or attempt a massive upgrade party with hundreds of updates remotely via SSH where several of them specifically state not to do it remotely (and get charged if it needs to be restored from their backup, even if just to a bootable state so that I could restore *my* backups).

Needless to say, I chose the third option: tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine. Letters of complaint to head office went unanswered or (if sent recorded delivery) received the vaguest of replies which basically said "We don't care, we can do no wrong, you still owe us money even though you couldn't use the server, because you're a 'dedicated server' customer we won't do anything to help you, ever.", etc. I even have a soundbite on a phone call to the support line where the chief technical bod on the special "dedicated server support line" actually refuses to state what it is that they COULD do for me. "Can you reboot my server if I ask?" "Can you restore from backup?" "Can you shut the machine down?" "Can you filter a DDoS attack if I get hit?" "What questions do you ACTUALLY answer?"... every single answer was the same... "I can't tell you that, sir". I mean, seriously, what the hell kind of answer is that?

Needless to say, I never used them ever again and like to pull out the story whenever I hear their name.

Re:One of the world's largest webhosts? (1)

Kent Recal (714863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745979)

Seconded, same expirience here, in germany.
Apparently the business model of selling crappy products without any support is kinda successful all around the world...

Re:One of the world's largest webhosts? (2, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#25749581)

I've used them as Schuland Partner AG when I was working in Germany, although the accounts were on Solaris at the time with few problems and hosted a number of personal sites on their shared hosting up until 2004 or 2005. My old comapny had a dedicated server with them and had a few problems. On paper they had (and still do) have the best price on dedicated server hosting when you compare between companies. But if anything goes wrong, you're screwed. We had a hard disk fail and tried to get it replaced. Meanwhile our customers were bitching at us because their site was down. I had warned the boss about this previously. We had to contact their tech support for something minor once before and we finally got ahold of someone in the dedicated server department that could actually speak english. (They do all their tech support out of the far east)

We ended up going elsewhere and when the next bill came in, the boss put a stop payment with American Express. He explained the reasoning that 1and1 had not lived up to a reasonable expectation of delivered service and AE agreed. 1and1 still sent it to collections. (It still never got paid as far as I know).

Their customer service is beyond useless and their control panel features are always lagging behind everyone else. I know about a year ago, they added "Click-n'build" application of common programs like Joomla, etc.. Kind of like Fanastico in Cpanel. Well, there's a catch, with their click and build you get their default config. Just try to add plug-ins or new themes....you can't.

Where I work now came across them when we were pricing out dedicated servers. I was pushing for Pair Networks, but the $350 vs. $99 a month kept the owner making me justify why one costs three time as much for arguably less services. At least on Paper. I've been using Pair Networks since 1998. They've always been expensive, but I've never had to wait more than 20 minutes for a problem to be fixed either. Especially in set up costs (we needed a few extra ports installed and Pair Networks only does managed servers. Want an extra Port installed, it's $50).

It's an argument that I initially lost. The guy is a small business owner and has started 2 other successful businesses, but he has never dealt in the technology world before where time kills. So we have a dedicated server at 1and1. So far no problems, and I have to say that things are a bit better than the last time I used them other than their software offerings are a bit out of date. Still, the ability to reimage and the off site back ups work. We back up nightly to the 1and1 FTP server and then back up to our internal back-up system every 2 hours. We can switch from the 1and1 dedicated system to the one in the office in less than 20 minutes and we've tested this just to make sure. I've been through the week long nightmare once before if a hard disk fails.

Now that we have enough clients that we know that the business is going to fly, I am now fighting the battle to get everything moved to Pair Networks when we launch the next version of our system. He's since read a few reviews of 1and1 and has come to realize that they can't be trusted.

Article's a little light on details (2, Interesting)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745655)

This is marginally interesting, but light on specifics. I mean, the article claims that the new Data Center is going to use "renewable energy" to power it, however it doesn't explain what kind of renewable energy or how it's going to do so.

Furthermore, while the air side economizer is a great idea (and more data centers should be using it), there is no description of what supplemental, mechanical cooling there will be in this facility. I can't honestly believe that there will never be a need for any cooling other than what mother nature is providing. Sure, geographically, it's bound to be cooler than say the southwest U.S. but there are still apt to be days in the summer where temperatures make it implausible to be on "economizer only".

Interference (2, Interesting)

Eudial (590661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745691)

1) Stray residual gamma rays knocks more electrons out of circuit A than circuit B.
2) Resulting potential difference induces current.
3) Resutling current flips a bit.
4) Bit is saved on hard drive.
5) Data is corrupted.
7) ???
8) (Absence of) Profit!

Re:Interference (1)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745753)

Gamma Rays? I'm more worried about the Hulk, myself

"Server is down? HULK SMASH PUNY SERVER!"

Re:Interference (1)

badran (973386) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748569)

Or Mutating the next Kernel to a super kernel.

whenever something goes wrong in the server room (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745711)

that is unexplained, i usually say something like "probably a stray cosmic ray"

for the technically inclined, this usually elicits a laugh

for the technically uninclined this usually elicits a stony face of seriousness

try this comment sometime, its win win. its a good litmus test for the level of technical acumen you are dealing with in someone

however, these guys can actually say this sort of thing with a straight face: "probably a stray gamma ray"

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (1)

mgbastard (612419) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745909)

however, these guys can actually say this sort of thing with a straight face: "probably a stray gamma ray"

Does the old routine of 'hmm' walk over to the right side of the building, look out the window, squinting hard for 15 seconds, and simply saying 'damn sunspots' not work anymore?

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748851)

Most of us don't have offices with windows :(

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745913)

Hey man, you're actually not half bad. A lot of things you wrote in the past, on Slashdot and kuro made me think you were an idiot, but as long as things don't get into social subjects you're pretty funny. Maybe it you'd get better results sticking to this kind of thing instead.

maybe i would take your advice (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746153)

were you actually some sort of authority, rather than an anonymous coward with an assumed sense of patronizing and condescending authority

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (1)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745959)

I can remember reading Dave Small (famous hardware hacker and entrepreneur, he made the MacIntosh emulator cartridge on the ATARI ST back in the days, also some 68030 accelerator cards) describing how he saw a character on his screen change in front of his eyes with no intervention, and attributed to a cosmic ray and his higher than normal altitude.

So this begs the question, although modern servers do have ECC memory to correct such occurences, couldn't there be a weaker link in the server chain somewhere that could be affected ?

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746303)

I used to get the cosmic ray answer from Motorola when one of our former systems would suffer a double-bit parity error and go TU. The first time the support weenie said it, it was mildly amusing, but by the third time they replaced all the memory, including swapping it with a system that nevercrashed, I figured out that it was their code phrase for "I don't know, I don't care, and I am going home." I have not had a Motorola system for eight years, and my cosmic ray problem left when they did. To me, that proves that Motorola was the weakest link.

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746393)

Cosmic rays? I always figure it's sun spots.

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (3, Interesting)

aphyr (1130531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747343)

Actually, cosmic rays can and do cause errors. Muon flux where I live tends to be roughly one through your hand per second, and they're going a pretty hefty fraction of C. With memory size and transistors scaling further and further down, cosmic ray interference becomes a really big issue, which is why ECC is so important.

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/Xplore/login.jsp?url=/iel1/16/6912/00278509.pdf?temp=x [ieee.org]

We're dealing with more delicate technology these days; It's only gotten worse since then.

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25749387)

Traditionally secondary reactions from casing material caused more problems than direct strikes by cosmic rays themselves. Thankfully this has been resolved with new materials.

The problem still exists and is getting worse with mineaturization and an ever increasing target area (More capacity)

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748577)

Actually bit errors DO happen because of cosmic radiation. This is why ECC memory exists.

Re:whenever something goes wrong in the server roo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25749777)

I wish I could have used it as a joke... I had to use it once as an excuse, because "we honestly don't have a fucking clue" was not a viable option. Two of our Netra T1s (at the time, these were new) decided to just flip out, just 5 seconds apart from each other.

We checked everything. Power monitoring, access loads, bad coding, intrusion detection, taking apart the data left on the HDD bit by bit to find anything odd. We even got the data center to release surveilance videos of the site in case some janitor didn't pull anything. (Which was ridiculous in the first place since it was in a locked cage with fully trained janitor staff that knew what they were doing.) We used all our "inside" contacts to see if there wasn't anything odd going on (that couldn't be publicized) regarding the hardware and software, from people that CERTAINLY would know, at Sun.

We had to have an answer. But we didn't. So we found one. "Sun spot activity has been high, and the architecture of the server.. blah blah blah." Believe it or not, it wasn't that hard to say with a straight face, considering we hadn't slept for nearly a week. And, as you would have guessed, the client had a stone cold look on their face as they asked us how it could be prevented. In order to cover our rear ends in the event that it may happen again (it did...), we made sure to mention that there was no practical way to protect against the acts of god, but they needed something to report to THEIR managers... so we decided to place thick panels of lead over the cage. That was the summit of all stupid things I had ever done, and it made me want to crawl into a cave and stay there, out of sheer humiliation. Luckily, the tech staff at the data center were quite sympathetic.

I seriously don't understand... (3, Interesting)

Ummite (195748) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745721)

There is a ton of places, like any northern places in Canada, where electricity is cheap and is really cool nearly all year long. I could think about Quebec province, in Canada. Electricity is approximatly 5 cents (canadian) per kw.h (like 4 cents US$) and it would cost nothing to cool down as much server as you want. Maybe some company already have such datacenters, but I could think about some google / microsoft datacenter going to canada, to save on electricity bills and cooling.

One Word: (3, Informative)

oncehour (744756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745821)

Taxes. Canadian Business Taxes are really pretty bad. Don't think that Microsoft and Google haven't already crunched the numbers. In all likelihood the cooling and electricity savings are outweighed by increased regulation and taxation.

Re:I seriously don't understand... (1)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745839)

Of course you can always go to the North/South pole and you're right, the cooling costs would dramatically decrease. However further you are away from civilization, the bigger are your difficulties to have enough electricity AND data connections (ok, Canada would probably be fine, however the problem remains in principle). This is imho the main drawback of Google's Off-shore Data Center [slashdot.org] and similar proposals.

Re:I seriously don't understand... (1)

rHBa (976986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748533)

The inaccessibility would also add costs in terms of:
  1. Constructing the facility
  2. Supplying the facility (hardware, people, food etc)
  3. Paying employees enough to make them want to work in the coldest and most boring place in the world with little/no daylight for 12 months a year.

Save energy... (1)

NoNeeeed (157503) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745751)

They can save energy by not having to turn the lights on.

Everything has it's own "natural" glow.

Hot water for the staff won't be a problem either.

Central heating for sysadmins? (2, Funny)

slashmojo (818930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25745947)

So no need for Ready Brek [wikipedia.org] to make the sysadmins "Get up and Glow"

1&1 SUX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25745985)

Horrible company. poor customer 'service'. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!

Hanau (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746049)

I used to visit Hanau on business. I don't know whether it's changed, but it used to be full of nuclear engineers, metallurgists, and scientists working on some interesting technologies. In the (spotlessly clean) town centre (rebuilt completely after WW2) is a memorial to the Brothers Grimm, the philologists who collected the fairy tales. Hansel und Gretel are famous for stuffing the witch into her own oven, and one company in Hanau used to make extremely high temperature furnaces, but that's about the only connection I can make.

Re:Hanau (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748917)

The Brothers Grimm were born in Hanau in 1785 and 1786, that's the connection.

http://www.pbase.com/image/26053607
http://www.pbase.com/image/26053608

USA (-1, Troll)

ohxten (1248800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746087)

I'd be happier if they put the center in the good ol' USA.

I find it funny (2, Interesting)

Gates82 (706573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746663)

As a graduating civil engineering student I find it funny the way people think about places or items which were formerly contaminated and now clean. The summary is a classic example of this mentality. Their building a data center on former nuclear facility site that has been cleaned. So what is the news?

I would get this same reaction in my environmental engineering class concerning waste water treatment (gray to white not sewage to gray). Even though the engineering of the treatment plant was explained most of the students would not be willing to drink the water that came out of the facility even though it used RO or other methods that are used to purify water from natural sources. This makes absolutely no sense. Engineers who understand that all water is recycled anyway, and that there is no difference if it is done mechanically vs. naturally.

If as educated individuals we cannot sell ourselves on the safety of the procedures how do we ever expect the uneducated masses to accept them?

--
So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

Re:I find it funny (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747681)

If as educated individuals we cannot sell ourselves on the safety of the procedures how do we ever expect the uneducated masses to accept them?

Kind of like that time we almost destroyed the ozone layer, right?

I'll err on the side of caution until I'm absolutely sure, thank you very much.

(But seriously, the mechanics of the CFC-ozone reaction are downright scary. Given a few more years, we could have done some serious irreversible harm)

Re:I find it funny (2, Interesting)

Gates82 (706573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748253)

Given a few more years, we could have done some serious irreversible harm

Seeing how ozone is produced by a reaction with UV, the more UV that is allowed to pass the ozone layer causes an increase in natural ozone production. So in essence this becomes a self balancing system (as most of the earth's systems). So the hole would come to a natural equilibrium.

I'm more concerned with the irrational fear associated with such things as the hole in the ozone. You think that it is gone? We have not heard much about it in the last 10 years cause it was of little concern; also, ozone is easy to produce. It would not be a problem (just expensive) to produce ozone and cart it to the upper atmosphere.

I find it great human arrogance to assume that we can to any large degree upset the natural balance of the earth to a level that it will not recover itself. Besides the only thing to lose is our existence should such a calamity be triggered. Myself, I'm not to concerned about that. I live a decent life and have nothing to fear concerning death.

But to run tests on water and find that it is cleaner then "normal" municipal sources and not trust it is absurd.

I do agree that often we implement technologies without thinking of the consequences, but the tree huggers are even worst about create radical idea to "save the planet" without thinking of long term consequences.

--
Who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

Re:I find it funny (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748643)

We have not heard much about it in the last 10 years cause it was of little concern

It was in the news recently - the ozone hole this past year was the fifth largest ever. Of the 30 years we've been sampling the silly thing.

Renewable Energy Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746771)

> 1&1 is converting it into a "green" data center
> powered by renewable energy

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all just plug our power cords directly into the ground like 1&1?

Alpha and Beta Particles (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747595)

No matter how well they clean it up I'm guessing that there are more alpha and beta particles flying around there than on some random previously empty piece of land. And with chip geometries smaller than ever this might be an issue.

Radioactivity 101 (3, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748407)

Erm...alpha particles (helium nuclei) are stopped by paper or air. Beta particles are stopped by quite thin metal foil. I think you mean gammas, and I suspect that these will be much lower than the background radiation (read, cosmic rays.)

I recall that back in the old days when expensive ICs were packaged in ceramic and cheap ones in plastic, cheap memory was less prone to bit errors because some of the ceramics contained, as it turned out, significant amounts of radioactivity. Potassium, for instance, is noticeably radioactive in its natural state (one of its isotopes is unstable).

Given that the concrete won't be made from raw materials collected on site, nor will the aluminum and steel in the server racks, and that the only really common beta emitter (tritium) produces electrons with less energy than those in an old style CRT, your fears are groundless.

Re:Alpha and Beta Particles (2, Informative)

Soruk (225361) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748589)

Alpha particles [wikipedia.org] are pretty large entities, being helium nuclei (two protons and two neutrons), as a result can only travel a few centimetres through air so any machine's case will stop them completely.

Beta particles [wikipedia.org] are electrons or positrons) and can reach about 9 metres [harvard.edu] through air but less than 5mm through aluminium.

If it was a nuclear facility... (2, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748321)

...then it was already green. [blogspot.com]

Free Lighting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25749399)

Does this mean there is free lighting after the employees start glowing from the radiation?

Nucules! Nucules! Oh! The Horror! (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25750047)

> If you had 100,000 servers, would you put them on top of a former nuclear fuel facility?

If you had 100,000 servers, would you put them on top of a former toaster factory?

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