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An Electricity-Cost-Aware Internet Routing Scheme

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the juice-is-juice dept.

Power 88

Al writes "Researchers from MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Akamai have developed a network-routing scheme that could save 'internet-scale' companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft million of dollars each year by moving data to locations with the best electricity prices for a particular day. The scheme simply considers both the most efficient routing path for data and the potential cost savings of routing it somewhere farther away. The researchers studied price fluctuations at locations across the country and used data from Akamai caching servers to test the idea out. In the best possible scenario — which would require more efficient servers — they estimate that companies could save as much as 40% on the electricity bills (tens of millions each year). Google already operates at least one datacenter that shuts down when temperatures get too high. Is this the next logical step for internet computing?"

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Best electricity prices for a particular day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29091551)

You guys don't have FIXED electricity prices? WTF?!

Move all your datacenters to Canada right now.

Re:Best electricity prices for a particular day? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091595)

Retail prices are, almost always, fixed or peak/off-peak.

Why, though, would bulk prices be fixed?

Re:Best electricity prices for a particular day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092143)

Retail prices are, almost always, fixed or peak/off-peak.

Why, though, would bulk prices be fixed?

I, don't, know,,,

Re:Best electricity prices for a particular day? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092289)

I think in California, it's a tiered pricing scheme, though that's for residential, as far as I know. FYI: IANAC (I Am Not A Californian)

Re:Best electricity prices for a particular day? (1)

Kyont (145761) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093381)

Regular homeowners here have fixed electricity prices, or sometimes two prices for peak vs. off-peak usage hours. But, if you are a large enough user to participate directly in the wholesale electricity markets (which a multi-megawatt data center certainly is), not so. Wholesale electricity prices fluctuate on a 5-minute basis in many areas of the country, and there are enormous amounts of money to be saved (or squandered) by timing your consumption well. The big dogs can adjust their usage in response to the current 5-minute price, and they can also play the markets in various financial products designed to hedge against unpredictable electricity prices.

And, FWIW, the same is true in Canada. For instance, see the hourly wholesale electricity price at http://www.ieso.ca/ [www.ieso.ca] for Ontario.

Re:Best electricity prices for a particular day? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093779)

My father used to work for a power company and what he did was buy and sell electricity to and from Canada. In the summer when Canada is cool and the US is hot, he would buy the surplus electricity for Canada cheaper than we could produce it here. Then in the winter when Canada's demand was higher, he would sell surplus US electricity for less than it would cost Canada to produce it. The customers have fixed prices, but the utilities companies certainly don't.

Prior art (4, Informative)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091619)

At least this idea [sun.com] was previously published at Research Disclosure, a site intended as an inexpensive way to log prior art. It is the next logical step and I'm glad to see that companies are moving in that direction.

artistic license (2, Interesting)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091975)

Don't forget moving data to avoid taxation (someone political/evil) is going to get the bright idea of taxing transactions in a data center eventually), prosecution (might have to move the people executing the transactions, I picture cruse ships in international waters for online porn and gambling eventually, which brings up the issue of pirates, but that's another topic), and law suits (someone sues, infringing a patent, divorce - migrate your business to a friendly location).

Better than Ships: Spar Buoys (1)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29096289)

I picture cruse ships in international waters for online porn and gambling eventually

These guys have a better architecture for what you propose:

http://seasteading.org/ [seasteading.org]

The thing about Cruise ships, is that they are not a good place to keep valuable permanent assets, like your financial data. One Rogue Wave, and they are potentially toast, and all of your secrets are subject to salvage laws in international waters. Not good. But Spar Buoys of sufficient size are immune to all wave action, due to simple geometry -- the part in contact with the water sits vertically, and has a very small cross section to wave motion.

New Basis for Economics (Kim Stanley Robinson) (0)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093521)

It is the next logical step and I'm glad to see that companies are moving in that direction.

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) had allusions to a new kind of economic system, partly based on Thermodynamics. The cost of everything was mostly determined by the energy input, including the energy advantage of using natural resources, like metal ores. (There's a whole heaping lot of metal in ordinary soil, but it takes a lot less energy per unit mass to get the stuff out of ores.)

I think you could morph the current economic system into one with a Thermodynamic/Information Theoretic one. Basically, the markets are such a system, but they also have various distortions built into them due to people's emotions, cultural inertia, and ignorance. Such an economic system would be inherently "green."

This is just electricty outsourcing. (4, Insightful)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091641)

While at first this struck me as an interesting idea, it took me a moment to realize that this is just dynamic (err... at server runtime) outsourcing. So, really, this isn't very amazing. Still, I think this is a good idea for us consumers: it means electricity usages for certain areas can shrink, which could potentially help lower rates for the rest of us. For once, outsourcing might be good for the economy.

Re:This is just electricty outsourcing. (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091917)

For once, outsourcing might be good for the economy.

Agreed, as long as the jobs are given to honest hard-working Americans and not filthy, stinky undesirables from that big diamond-shaped country.

Re:This is just electricty outsourcing. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29093135)

Whats wrong with Australians?
Other than that basement dude joseph, they're not convicts anymore.

Re:This is just electricty outsourcing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092809)

Outsourcing != offshoring.

Also: Comparative advantages. Betch.

Re:This is just electricty outsourcing. (1)

felipekk (1007591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29095335)

Well, at the same time that electricity usage shrinks in some areas, lowering prices, it would increase in other, increasing prices.

Who keeps the savings?? (3, Interesting)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091659)

Will the savings from this measure be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices?? If so, I'm all for it; else, screw this, I won't take a performance hit on the Internets just to make some CEO and stockholders even richer.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091793)

You just don't get it.
Will the savings be passed on to the customer? Yes because the customer is Google, Microsoft, and maybe Amazon.
What people don't get is that you and I are not Google's, Facebook's, or even Slashdot's customer.
We are their product.
Unless you buy ads on those services you are not their customer.
Amazon is different but I doubt that this will cause a performance hit that you notice or they will not do it. But really folks get a clue. We are Google's customers like a cow is a dairy farmers customer.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29091875)

We are Google's customers like a cow is a dairy farmers customer.

You mean... Google wants my man-milk?

I'm strangely aroused and confused.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092649)

No, he means that Google et al. are selling you (or your viewership) to advertisers. Hence you are the product, not the customer.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29094301)

WHOOSH

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29096207)

We are Google's customers like a cow is a dairy farmers customer.

You mean... Google wants my man-milk?

Son, if you are a man-cow, the farmer isn't interested in your milk, he's after your tenderloin. And ribs. And brisket. And tongue.

I'm strangely aroused and confused.

If you are aroused by what would be a fatal situation for you, you are confused.

------

Yes, meat is murder. Tasty, tasty murder.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29104431)

Yep I would say that in this persons case he is confused. He wouldn't be a cow so much as a steer.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (1)

Turiko (1259966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29095149)

except that the cow has no choice but to be milked. If i wanted to, i could stop using google and use another search engine. If a compan,y does something to piss off the people visiting their site, they'll feel it. think of what would happen to youtube if they charged for uploading videos... or even worse, for viewing them. I doubt that it would stay like that for long... either the site taken down or no more charging.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29104113)

Yes you can pick the farmer but your still will be the product and not the customer.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29091797)

LOL How exactly did you plan to stop it?

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Always was so. It's called 'globalization'.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093679)

The rich are getting richer , and the poor are getting drunk. I plan to stop it by getting drunker.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29094261)

No -- that's called "unregulated capitalism."

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29095853)

No -- that's called "capitalism."

FTFY

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29091857)

Why not become a stockholder and take advantage of the higher profits?

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092415)

Sure, Google for one will no doubt be happy to pass along the savings to the majority of their customers. I'm sure they'll pass along the entire 40%.

I'm a pretty typical Google customer, so let's add up the savings. Let's see, I use Google Voice, GMail, Google News, Google Maps / Google Earth, Google Documents, occasionally YouTube and probably a small handful of other services less often. My total bill comes to a whopping $0. $0 minus 40% is $0. See? They've passed along the entire savings.

Heck, maybe they'll be generous and give me a Googol % discount!

As far as the performance hit, I doubt it. It's already not easy to differentiate between data coming from a server in the US versus one overseas. If a server farm in the US gets shut down because of heat or high electric costs, I'd be willing to bet that for all practical purposes the switchover would be transparent to you, or nearly so.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092903)

If you're using all of the free, advertising supported tools, you're actually the product, not the customer.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092481)

Who's saying it HAS to come at a performance hit?
They're simply saving themselves money using already available resources in places where the power is cheapest at any given day.

Analogy time: It's cross between "buying petrol at the cheapest service station in your area" and "running multiple offices around the world so one or more are always going to be running during regular work hours (aka during the day)" eg: in both cases no performance is lost but you're getting a benefit (cheaper fuel and better overall availability)

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29094217)

> Who's saying it HAS to come at a performance hit?
> They're simply saving themselves money using already available resources in places where the power is cheapest at any given day.

Well, I don't want my packets getting routed through some router in Iceland (and watch my latency/ping go through the roof) just because power is cheaper there.

Re:Who keeps the savings?? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29095649)

From the article:

"The team then devised a routing scheme designed to take advantage of daily and hourly fluctuations in electricity costs across the country. The resulting algorithm weighs up the physical distance needed to route information--because it's more expensive to move data further--against the likely cost savings from reduced energy use. Data collected from nine Akamai servers, covering 24 days of activity, provided a way to test the routing scheme using real-world data."

Your packets will not get routed through some router in Iceland because it's cheaper to buy (relatively expensive) electricity somewhere in the US than it is to pay for data transmission from overseas. The intent here is to put the data in a "relatively close" location where power is cheapest, balancing the cost of sending the data against the cost of carrying it locally. Even if you were PAID to consume electricity in Iceland, the transmission costs would gobble up any possible electrical savings.

Not to mention that there are some sacrifices that a company like Google would consider worth taking to save money. Reduced performance is not one of them. A mass exodus of ad-revenue-generating eyeballs just isn't within their business plan.

Smoke and Mirrors (2, Insightful)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091697)

The end result of these sorts of schemes is that large companies will increase local demand and local electricity prices. The big users will get rebates and concessions, while small users, particularly residential customers, will get hosed.

At the end of the day, once a few large players do this, the benefits will be marginal for them, as electricity costs are mostly driven by peak load.

Re:Smoke and Mirrors (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091995)

That's contrary to the point of the system, which is to route traffic to where electricity is cheapest. If prices go up, the traffic will be routed elsewhere, instantaneously. So if you're in the business of selling electricity, your incentive is to lower prices to attract additional demand when you can handle it.

Economies of scale tend to make things cheaper. I don't see why this would be any different.

Re:Smoke and Mirrors (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29100907)

Economies of scale make things cheaper when the suppliers of a commodity have the ability to "scale" -- (ie. produce additional supply to meet demand) The point of this system is to create optimial cost structures for the data center operators -- not the grid as a whole.

The high cost of electricity in many places is a result of peak demand -- the cost to deliver the first 85% of electricity supply is lower than the final 15%.

Why? Power plants are expensive to shut down and startup, so most coal/hydro/nuclear plants run as close to capacity as possible -- enough to meet about 80% of demand. When demand starts peaking, small-scale (and expensive) natural gas generators start up and power is shipped in.

New York City is a great example. The density of the NY metro area makes it impossible to site significant new generation in the metro area. So to meet demand, power is shipped in from hydro projects in Canada. The problem is, over HALF of that energy is lost in transit!

Shifting demand on a large scale is going to screw up the economics of power supply.

Re:Smoke and Mirrors (1)

BranMan (29917) | more than 4 years ago | (#29110037)

<quote>Shifting demand on a large scale is going to screw up the economics of power supply.</quote>

      I don't get it - why would this screw anyone? If the datacenters have high rates, doesn't that mean that the electric company can't keep up with the peak demand, so they are raising prices? And so if you shift your data elsewhere, reducing the peak demand in that area, doesn't that help everyone, including the electric company?

Re:Smoke and Mirrors (1)

lsatenstein (949458) | more than 4 years ago | (#29114403)

Here in Quebec Canada we have renewable hydro electric power. We have so much surplus that we export it to the USA. Large data centers here have bargain rates. I am a home owner and I heat my building with electricity. I would think that the data centers here pay around 3cents per kwh. My retail rate is 4.5cents per kwh to heat my three story home. Winters here hit -30C at night, and -20C during the day (Mid Jan to Mid Feb). That is, in rough conversion, around -35F to -20F. (The two ranges, F and C are equal at -40, which we have never reached that low). They should build their data centers in Montreal Quebec, an hours drive from upstate USA.

environmental cost of routing electric power (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091747)

Wouldn't re-routing the data also use up electricity. And possible more electric power would have to be re-routed to the low-cost servers. This sounds like something dreamed up by an accountant. Since mains electricity still has an environmental cost, there would be no real benefit. Sounds like it came from the same stable as carbon-emission trading ...

Re:environmental cost of routing electric power (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092377)

Routing packets costs money in terms on bandwidth, which is how you indirectly pay for the router and electricity used to route your packets.

These costs can all be calculated. If I can use this system to save $40,000 on electricity by increasing my bandwidth cost by $10,000, that's a signal that using the system is more efficient than not using it.

Re:environmental cost of routing electric power (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29095953)

I imagine someone who implements this scheme would make sure the data has already been offloaded BEFORE peak demand.

There are a few points here:

(1) A data center broadcasting its data out to an alternate probably consumes little or no extra power than one that is just serving up web pages, other than the cost of transmission. All of the hard drives and fans are still spinning, you've just got a small incremental cost for the extra network traffic.

(2) Most of this can piggyback on already-existing algorithms that copy data from one data center to another for continuous operation and caching anyway. I don't see a great deal of increase in transmission based on this method - you do need extra data centers to cover for the ones that are shut down, but the net savings in "peak power" would more than make up for the extra use of "non-peak power".

In general, running a power grid is most efficient with a given range of output or load, the load it's designed for. If your power needs "peak and valley", you need to design your entire grid for the highest peak, which means your grid is running very inefficiently during the lowest valley because you have power sources that are running outside their optimum efficiency.

What this means is that the areas where these data centers are located can delay grid expansion projects (finding new power sources). These data centers have to be located SOMEWHERE, so building a half-dozen extras might mean that a few dozen cities where there are already data centers might be able to delay expanding their power grids, because demand at peak has been reduced.

Boy that's dumb. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091893)

Electricity costs are something you measure based on tariffs. If you have a load curve of a pattern, one particular place is the best place to be, so you can just move your building there.

Re:Boy that's dumb. (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093999)

"Electricity costs are something you measure based on tariffs. If you have a load curve of a pattern, one particular place is the best place to be, so you can just move your building there."

Except that very large electricity users can cut their own deal with the power company, and part of that deal can be demand pricing.

Remember how Enron manipulated electricity prices in California? The only reason that worked was that Cali had a very inelastic supply-demand curve - Enron could ask for, and get, very high prices because the utilities HAD to but power at those rates because their customers were protected from the price spikes and had no reason to cut demand. The utilities were Enron's customer, and had their nuts in a vise because they couldn't get power from other sources.

But, Enron (and other suppliers) have other customers as well - large users, like manufacturing plants and data centers. They can buy off the open market, and pay whatever the spot rate is. Companies have a little more leeway than public utilities - they can shut down, or reduce operations, but they can't do it forever. So their balls are, if not in a vice, at least a large pair of pliers.

But what if there was a way you could shed electrical demand but not cut output? Let's take a simple example. Lets say Very Large Search Company (VLSC) has 2 data centers - one east of the Rockies and one west. Load is shared about 50-50, based on geography. And lets say there's a big heat wave in California. So residential demand spikes, driving the spot price up. Now, if it is an extended heat wave, VLSC could manually send more traffic to their East of the Rockies center. But what if it's a day or 2? Not worth the effort. But if that routing happened automagically, by tying into spot prices wherever VLSC has data centers, you can dynamically shed electrical load by shedding traffic load.

The problem I see is that such a scheme demands extra server capacity at each data center - if they can save 40% on electricity costs, that means you need to spend for extra in place infrastructure that is mostly underutilized.

Not really (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29094391)

The scenario that you describe tends not to happen because most people that big have industrial agreements with fixed prices for power. I've seen electric bills for guys like steel mills that use up 3MW to well, melt metal with. Or, an oil refinery. Those guys get bills based on a tariff which has a fixed demand price coupled with a fixed price per kw consumed.. so, any spot pricing fluctuations they are insulated from. There are minimum usage requirements that most of these guys meet.

Re:Boy that's dumb. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29094447)

In the case of Enron, you are confusing ISOs/RTOs with end customers. In the case of California blackouts and manipulation, they didn't do anything wrong. Where they were wrong is they stated they had this big bandwidth business they were building, but they couldn't get it to work, so they just made everything up.

Good for Wind energy (2, Insightful)

ion++ (134665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091921)

This is good for wind energy. Wind energy has the problem that it sometimes doesnt blow, and other times it blows too much ;-)

I have read it is possible to give pretty accurate wind predictions. This could be used to start servers in locations where it blows too much, and stop servers in locations where it doesnt blow.

Re:Good for Wind energy (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091957)

Wind energy has the problem that it sometimes doesnt blow

My girlfriend has that same proble.... n/m

Re:Good for Wind energy (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092777)

I will only say this ONE MORE TIME.

This is /.

There are no GFs here.

:)

Re:Good for Wind energy (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#29094903)

This is /.

There are no GFs here.

Even if that is true, it is possible that some people, who use Slashdot, have girlfriends. </pedantic>

Re:Good for Wind energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29099239)

Even if that is true, it is possible that some people, who use Slashdot, have girlfriends.

liar!

Re:Good for Wind energy (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092093)

This is good for wind energy. Wind energy has the problem that it sometimes doesnt blow, and other times it blows too much ;-)

Plus, all those turbines will help cool down the servers. Win-win!

Re:Good for Wind energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29095573)

Turbines do not work that way! Good night!

Re:Good for Wind energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092509)

My servers run Windows. They always blow.

Re:Good for Wind energy (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093107)

I don't know why this post was marked as off-topic. It seems completely reasonable to me. Many forms of alternative energy (especially wind and solar) have the problem that they amount of electricity they provide varies a lot over time. As these alternatives represent larger and larger fractions of electricity production, energy prices will vary over time more and more and this sort of technology will thus provide more and more benefit.

Yes. (0, Redundant)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091937)

Yes.

sounds like a good idea until... (1)

jmnormand (941909) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091953)

comcast and at&t get a hold of this and we are routed through china to get our email...

Re:sounds like a good idea until... (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092531)

If the source and destination are both in the US, then there would be no reason to route through China.

Just getting a packet from the US to China is going to require a lot of hops around the US - and probably Europe - and then it still has to come back in at some point and reach the US destination.

Even if energy was free in China, I don't think there would be any reason to route intra-US packets there.

Hang the latency... (3, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091979)

When asked whether deciding to route based on electricity prices, a spokesman for the group said "Hang the latency. We don't care if the packets take two or three times as long to get where they're going as long as our costs go down. Not only that, but we're marketing this as 'green networking', which means we'll be able to charge more for it. Everybody wants to be green these days. It's a great scam... I mean scheme."

Re:Hang the latency... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093425)

PING google.com (74.125.127.100) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from pz-in-f100.google.com (74.125.127.100): icmp_seq=1 ttl=51 time=66.5 ms PING google.co.uk (72.14.221.104) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from fg-in-f104.google.com (72.14.221.104): icmp_seq=1 ttl=244 time=155 ms PING google.com.au (74.125.91.104) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from qy-in-f104.google.com (74.125.91.104): icmp_seq=1 ttl=51 time=53.3 ms I'm not seeing a huge problem. Hell, Australia's servers respond faster than the US servers (and I'm in Colorado)

Re:Hang the latency... (1)

LeDopore (898286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29097609)

53.3 ms times the speed of light is only about 10 000 miles: not enough for a round trip from Colorado to Australia even if you had a light speed connection going straight through the Earth's mantle.

Google must mirror google.com.au close to you; it's also suspicious that 74.125.91.104 and 74.125.127.100 share the first and second numbers (suggesting that they're physically not too far apart).

Low Datacenter Costs (4, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29091991)

On the subject of data center running costs, why are there not more data centers in Iceland? The cold climate (to minimize cooling costs, which can be 50% of the total power drain in hot climates) combined with cheap renewable geothermal electricity would make it ideal I think.

Re:Low Datacenter Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092209)

Perhaps Greenland not Iceland? ("There's no ice in Iceland", as the saying goes)

Iceland: http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_guides/results.shtml?tt=TT003890

Greenland: http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_guides/results.shtml?tt=TT001000

Greenland geothermal: http://www.nunatsiaqnews.com/archives/51118/news/features/51118_01.html

Re:Low Datacenter Costs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092333)

why are there not more data centers in Iceland?

Why not Greenland? The climate there is actually colder than Iceland, and it has a more ecologically friendly name.

Re:Low Datacenter Costs (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29096075)

How about the North Pole? ;)

Re:Low Datacenter Costs (5, Informative)

bumburumbi (1047864) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092703)

With only two cables connecting Iceland to the Ineternet, companies have not been eager to set up shop here. FARICE-1 [slashdot.org] is fairly modern (2004), CANTAT-3 [slashdot.org] is rather old (1994) and a new cable, DANICE [slashdot.org] is being built. For many companies the risk of one or more of these cables being down is to large to offset the cheap electricity and cool weather.

Re:Low Datacenter Costs (2, Interesting)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093045)

For companies that are latency-sensitive (like Google), it doesn't make sense to serve a lot of traffic out of Iceland (except to Icelanders, perhaps).

Because Belgium is cool enough (1)

xixax (44677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29143639)

Old newss. Google already shift load globally to reduce electricty consumption for cooling and is probably more important than saving a few percent on electrity cost:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/16/google_chillerless_data_center/ [theregister.co.uk]

While Belgium is likely to be pretty expensive to live, I bet it's still cheaper than Iceland (though the whole country going titsup during the GFC may change that).

Will they re-route if usage peaks? (2, Insightful)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092019)

So let's say Minneapolis has the cheapest power that day, but then they have more-than-normal consumption rates. Will brown-outs occur or will the power companies not allow the infringing data companies on the grid to keep the indigenous peoples' lights on? It would suck if I lived in town and my power went out because Google wanted to save a few $$.

Re:Will they re-route if usage peaks? (3, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092173)

So let's say Minneapolis has the cheapest power that day, but then they have more-than-normal consumption rates.

This scenario makes no sense. If a utility is experiencing high loads, they will charge *more*, not less. And the higher the load, the more they'll be charging. This scheme directs data center power consumption *away* from heavily loaded utilities, not towards them.

Re:Will they re-route if usage peaks? (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092237)

In order for Google to use the electricity, they already have to have a datacenter in the location. So they are already "local customers" and are fully capable of of running their datacenter at full capacity.

This isn't some magic way to siphon electricity from grandma's house. All it says is that google will turn off datacenters when the price goes up. This could actually save you from a brownout if Google uses a large percentage of electricity in your locality (doubtful, their usage probably is noise when compared to EVERYONE else); if the electricity provider can't keep up with demand they would raise prices and Google's data center would shut down.

Re:Will they re-route if usage peaks? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093069)

I don't think the power grid is set up to let everyone on the grid run their electricity at 100%. It's set up to run at somewhere above the maximum expected load. I don't think the maximum expected load is anywhere need 100% of customers using 100% of their circuits. Take the example of everyone flushing the toilets at the same time. The system isn't made to handle extreme situations like this, because the odds of them happening are zero. Now, if you have many data centres in close proximity, and for some reason, every computer there starts going at 100%, when usually they would only be going at 20%, I think that the power grid might have a hard time adjusting to this kind of spike.

Re:Will they re-route if usage peaks? (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093379)

The "brownout scenarios" assumes that the data centers are a large portion of the overall electrical load, which is unlikely.

Even if they were, causing brownouts in the place where would be counterproductive for Google et. al., so I'd seriously doubt they'd adopt a system where they were taking out their own servers' power source. But that's beside the point; prices aren't low at times of peak usage, so this problem wouldn't exist by definition of the way the system works. This system would help drive traffic away from heavily-loaded localities.

The data center has to exist already and is already using electricity. The amount of electricity used is (the researchers are assuming) based on an unplanned proximity protocol; if I'm close to the server, that's the server my traffic gets routed to, regardless of price of electricity. With this system, Google can use electricity more efficiently at the cost of slighlty higher latency to me, which I'm unlikely to notice.

Re:Will they re-route if usage peaks? (1)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102015)

Power grid DDoS? Gross.

Re:Will they re-route if usage peaks? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092581)

As a couple of the other posts have implied, a Google data center would likely get more expensive when demand is at peak.

Most commercial contracts have a provision for variable rates based on demand, and if they don't these sorts of data centers would be an ideal situation to introduce them. Google, Akamai, whomever could simply come into town and say "we want to build a building somewhere near a local Internet hub". The building would be fed plenty of power when demand is low, and that power could be sold to them very cheaply since demand is low at the time. When demand goes up, this building starts backing down its demand and freeing up capacity when the system needs it the most.

Given that most powerplants run most efficiently at a constant load, this could be a great way for the power company to offload "extra" energy during non-peak times but free up that capacity when a heat wave hits and everyone decides to turn their AC on.

Something like this actually makes it LESS likely that your power would go out during heavy load, simply because if it does the data center would probably be charged ruinous electric fees if they continued operating. So they'll shut down so you can turn your A/C up to "11" if you want.

Dear "outsourcing" naysayers.. (1)

Emb3rz (1210286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092047)

Dear "outsourcing" naysayers..

READ THE SUMMARY. Like, the part where it talks about prices across "the country." As in, the country that the named companies operate in, i.e. the USA.

Slow replies day (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092081)

Where the hell are the hundreds of replies? Are all nerds dead or what?

The Arctic Circle Plan (1)

Velcroman98 (542642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092277)

How about placing an outdated nuclear sub on the sea-bottom near the arctic circle instead of sinking old ship off the warm coasts for coral reefs. It would have to be gutted, then filled with servers and a way to pump glycol in-and-out for cooling, the glycol would be chilled by cool arctic waters. You'd have electricity for as long as the on-board nuclear plant still had fuel. If done off the northern coast of Alaska you'd only need to run a few short fiber links to land. There's plenty of military bases, so connections are established.

Re:The Arctic Circle Plan (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092627)

You would need more than one connection to the internet for this to be helpful in any way.

If data has to go back out the same way it came in, then what was the point?

Even if the electricity cost is zero on your sub, it needs to achieve *some* advancement of the packet toward its destination or it is pointless.

What to optimize here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29092677)

What to optimize here? Turning Echelon OFF will save at average 50% of energy.

Batteries? (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092725)

Would there be any benefit to Google (or whomever) to install a crap-pile of batteries that would charge during the low-rates and run the data center during the high-rates? That way they wouldn't need to shut down the operation just because electricity is expensive at that moment.

Re:Batteries? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093249)

Well, they probably already have UPS units on their servers, which are effectively batteries. However, these units (in a datacentre) are usually only enough for a few minutes, long enough to get the generator up and running. I don't think enough batteries could be gathered to run these servers for long enough to take advantage of the change in energy prices.

Re:Batteries? (1)

Kyont (145761) | more than 4 years ago | (#29094151)

Sure, people and battery companies are looking at this already. Altair Nano [altairnano.com] and A123 [a123systems.com] come to mind. But, utility-scale batteries (a.k.a. a crapload of smaller batteries linked together) like this are very pricey on a per-megawatt basis.

So the question they have to answer is whether the difference in electricity prices between peak hours and off-peak hours is enough to justify the cost of buying and maintaining the batteries. The economics are getting better over time as battery technology improves, but at this point there are only a few large battery installations like this in the country.

There are other ways of storing electricity during off-peak hours and using during on-peak. The most common is Pumped Hydro [wikipedia.org] , which can be quite economical, but only if you have a big lake up a nearby hill you can use. So batteries may have a future.

Optimization (1)

achten (1032738) | more than 4 years ago | (#29092997)

One problem in optimization for brick-and-mortar companies with huge supply chain is "minimum landed cost at best profit margin". A friend of mine does such calculations for such organizations and provides ways to fine tune the supply chain leading to direct savings. Throw in things like lowest latency and mininum number of hops etc the techniques apply to problmes for a company providing services related to the internet. For a company that spends a big portion on electricity to provide services to its consumers it is another parameter to optimize for (some of the cases he did inluded things like political stability/labour laws to check for advisabililty of setting up a center in a particular geographical region). It will be interesting to see the results on the screens of the end-users. I have started to feel that a few of the sites I access most frequently have slowed over time. Maybe, it is just me but maybe there is a real problem and some people are trying to solve these.

This is silly. (1)

system1111 (1527561) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093227)

This is another case of look at what we can do tech-wise without looking that there are buisness solutions already in place. Any company that is the size of google etc. Where they are concerned about a particular risk in electricity prices would simply hedge these risks in the financial market... Not to say this tech isn't a nifty approach to things just is it the optimal solution biz wise

Sounds great, until (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29093891)

Someone in the Federal government realizes that they can tax all of that savings to increase revenue. They'll accuse these companies of being greedy profit mongers who aren't paying their fair share and tax the fuck out of the savings. They'll be moving data from state to state and the Federal government will have the jurisdiction to get involved.

LK

Shades of rn? (2, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29095703)

The kids these days probably don't remember this bit of text, but it used to be the standard warning before sending a posting out to a network which we talk about in exactly the same way you talk about fight club:

This program posts news to thousands of machines throughout
the entire civilized world. Your message will cost the net
hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send everywhere.

Are you absolutely sure that you want to do this? [yn]

And that was just for sending text messages usually under 4 KB in size.

And now they talk about cost-aware routing?

Sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102055)

It's all about money once more!
It's not "green" at all, just about cost-savings.
I first thought it would be about routing with the lowest possible usage of energy, but no.
Sad...

Yves (aka theYinYeti).

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