Cow Dung To Project Moonshot: From The Mind Of HP’s Chandrakat Patel

Cow Dung Powered Data Center Sketch - Chandrakat had another interesting article and this one was about the rise of Chandrakat Patel at Hewlett Packard. What’s different about this story is that Mr. Patel’s success has more to do with capturing and converting the dung when a cow goes plop than it has to do with gigaflops. HP? Crap catchers? Not completely. What Mr. Patel is doing is looking at how to create it and conserve energy at the data center level.

Creating power is where the cows come in. The image drawn by Mr. Patel at the top kind of explains it all. The data centers alone do not run hot enough to drive a generator but they do produce enough heat to get the manure kicking out some good methane. The methane would then be used to power the data center. Very simple.

Next is conserving power and that would be the job of HP’s Project Moonshot. Project Moonshot wants to change the data center of today by moving away from bigger servers with multiple chips and faster processors to smaller servers that are driven by thousands of low-power processors. Basically, they want to use many ants to do the work of a Goliath beetle. From the article:

“HP Labs and Mr. Patel thinks its Project Moonshot servers will use 94 percent less space than the servers you typically see in data centers and they’ll burn 89 percent less energy.”

Whether they’re getting their energy from clean or dirty sources, data centers are huge consumers of electricity. According to a report from Greenpeace, data centers consume 1.5 – 2% of all electricity produced worldwide and they’re growing at rate of 12% per year (PDF); as consumers of power, data centers rank 5th in the world.

The Jubbling is as obvious as our inability to write about techie stuff. Hopefully ideas like Mr. Patels and HP’s Project Moonshot can help data centers run more efficiently and maybe reverse their energy consumption trend. []


Greenpeace Guide to Green Electronics

Greenpeace Guide to Green Electronics
The “Greenpeace Guide to Green Electronics” has been out for about a month and the latest release, timed for the CES Expo, follows the same direction as earlier releases. Gather data from publicly available sources, Corporate Responsibllity Reports etc., and put it in a USA Today’ish format that makes it easy to read. My issue with the Guide to Green Electronics is that the difference between “Partially Good” and “Partially Bad” is “Extremely Vague”. Dell Computer, for example, receives a “Partially Bad” rating of +1 even though from the information in the guide, Dell is moving in a direction of being BFR/PVC free. And is Microsoft really a bigger electronics polluter than Panasonic? You’ve seen their toilets – you be the judge.

I will always try to give Greenpeace the benefit of the doubt but it’s difficult to find value in their “Guide to Green Electronics” report. It’s based solely on publicly available information. This is not their forte and it shows. The only thing I could compare it to would be… um… if the CEA responded by rating Greenpeaces’ anti-whaling efforts based on information gleaned from the Discovery Channel.

Download the Greenpeace Guide to Green Electronics.