Researchers at Microsoft and The University of Virginia are tackling that very idea, working on ways to put “data furnaces” inside homes, apartments and office buildings as a way to keep residents warm while at the same time powering the Internet.
It’s a bold — and still untested — concept. But the promise of having a micro data center inside a home or condo isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. The researchers — including Microsoft’s Jie Liu, Michel Goraczko, Sean James and Christian Belad — write in a recent research paper that the problem of heat generation at data centers can be turned into an advantage.
“Computers can be placed directly into buildings to provide low latency cloud computing for its ofﬁces or residents, and the heat that is generated can be used to heat the building. This approach improves quality of service by moving storage and computation closer to the consumer, and simultaneously improves energy efﬁciency and reduces costs by reusing the electricity and electrical infrastructure that would normally be used for space heating alone.”