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Author: crassfool Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 61260  
Subject: Re: Where's the cheapst place to keep your compu Date: 12/22/2011 12:02 PM
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sykesix says

Color me skeptical. Getting rid of excess heat doesn't cost that much. It might cost $15,000 a pound to get a payload to geosynchronous orbit. Even if prices were to drop to a tenth of that it would still cost a gazillion dollars to put a data center up there. And you wouldn't be able to service it easily either.

Depends on how much heat we're talking about.

Back in the day, I worked on the ILLIAC IV project. It was the first supercomputer, consisting of 64 Processing Elements (PE's), which were floating-point arithmetic and logic units, each with its own power supply, occupying a cabinet that looked like an oversized refrigerator. And there was a huge disk drive serving all of them, and a traffic-management computer that connected to a PDP-10 which did all the job control, compilation, and everything else you would need in such a project. Technically, the ILLIAC IV was a peripheral to that PDP-10.

So all of this was housed in a refrigerated room at NASA's Ames Research Center, located on Moffett Field in Mountain View, CA.

One day the news was that the hardware engineers had managed to tweak the 64 PE's so they could keep going if there was a 5% drop in voltage from their power supplies, and it sounded like a Big Deal

I asked why it was a Big Deal

A: Because the PE's are interlocked so that if one shuts dow because of low voltage, all the others shut down too.

Q: So?

A: Well, the air conditioning flow through the computer room is some number of acre-feet per second. If all that equipment shuts down and stops pumping heat into the air, it freezes the whole building and everyone is upset with us. And it takes a long time to shut down the refrigeration.

Q: Why is that?

A: Because we're afraid if we just shut it off all at once, it would burst the water mains all over Moffett Field...
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