1sockchuck writes: What will the future of Bitcoin infrastructure look like? The Bitcoin mining craze is driving the creation of "hashing centers" — huge high-density, low-budget mining facilities optimized for rapid changes in hardware and economics. These mining facilities are often built in old warehouses, and house servers on shelving from hardware stores, skipping the expensive power backup equipment found in most commercial data centers. This poses a challenge for service providers, who love big customers but are wary of the Bitcoin sector and its economics, incouding the focus on short-term contracts. Some data centers are adapting, deploying space optimized for crypto miners, with the network and cooling systems on UPS, but not the power supplies.
miller60 writes: Citing strong demand from cryptocurrency miners, data center and colocation providers are beginning to accept Bitcojn as payment for large chunks of data center space. It's a sign that the data center industry sees an emerging opportunity in catering to the hosting needs of crypto miners, who typically seek high-density space with cheap power. While many web hosting companies accept Bitcoin, larger data center players have been slower to embrace cryptocurrency. Utah-based C7 Data Centers says it's accepting Bitcoin because of surging demand. The Utah-based company says it now hosts about 4.5 megawatts of mining gear, just down the road from the NSA data center.
1sockchuck writes: Google has begun using machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the oceans of data it collects about its server farms and recommend ways to improve them. Google data center executive Joe Kava said the use of neural networks will allow Google to reach new frontiers in efficiency in its server farms, moving beyond what its engineers can see and analyze. Google's data centers aren't yet ready to drive themselves. But the new tools have been able to predict Google’s data center performance with 99.96 percent accuracy.
miller60 writes: As it continues its global expansion, Facebook wants to be able to build twice the data center capacity in the same amount of time. So it's hacking data center construction, assembling teams of designers and experts in lean construction. The outcome: Facebook is evaluating two new concepts for building its future server farms. One involves modular construction, shipping large pre-fabricated “building blocks” that can be rapidly put together, much like Legos. The second design focuses on the use of IKEA-style kits filled with lightweight parts that can be assembled on-site. Either could mean that Facebook ditches its distinctive two-story "penthouse" cooling system.
miller60 writes: After getting started in garages and server closets, Bitcoin mining is moving into data centers and the cloud. Large mining operations are beginning to follow the example of their forerunners in hyperscale computing, shifting compute capacity to remote areas with cheap power, including Iceland and central Washington. Some are using leasing data centers from major providers, while some bitcoin entrepreneurs are developing custom facilities to house high-density hardware, ranging from makeshift server farms in warehouses packed with fans, all the way to futuristic racks of sleek, liquid-cooled immersion rigs in Hong Kong.
miller60 writes: How do you cool a high-density server installation inside a high rise in Hong Kong? You dunk the servers, immersing them in fluid to create an extremely efficient HPC environment in a hot, humid location. Hong Kong's Allied Control developed its immersion cooling solution using a technique called open bath immersion (OBI), which uses 3M's Novec fluid. OBI is an example of passive two-phase cooling, which uses a boiling liquid to remove heat from a surface and then condenses the liquid for reuse, all without a pump. It's a slightly different approach to immersion cooling than the Green Revolution technique being tested by Intel and deployed at scale by energy companies. Other players in immersion cooling include Iceotope and Hardcore (now LiquidCool).
miller60 writes: Microsoft wants to bring power generation inside the rack. The company says it will test racks with built-in fuel cells, a move that would eliminate the need for expensive power distribution systems seen in traditional data centers. Using a rack-level fuel cell can “collapse the entire energy supply chain, from the power plant to the server motherboard, into the confines of a single server cabinet,” says Microsoft, which plans to use biogas as fuel. The plan builds on Microsoft's plan for poop-powered data centers built alongside water treatment plants. The company has published a white paper describing its research.
miller60 writes: The London Internet Exchange (LINX) is teaming with Dutch data center provider EvoSwitch to start a European-style neutral internet exchange in northern Virginia. In the European model, traffic exchanges are managed by participants, rather than the colocation providers hosting the infrastructure. LINX will launch in EvoSwitch's Manassas facility, but also build a fiber ring to expand the exchange to at least two other sites in Virginia. The project is part of a broader effort to launch Euro-style exchanges as an alternative to Equinix and other commercial network hubs focused in single facilities. In London, the LINX spans 10 data centers run by four different colo providers.
miller60 writes: It lasted just 10 seconds. But a barrage of Tweets from fans of Hayao Miyazaki's 1986 anime film "Castle in the Sky" set an all-time Twitter traffic record on Aug.3, hitting 143,199 Tweets per second. The event provided an unusual test of Twitter's infrastructure, which has been broadly retooled since a series of embarrassing outages during the 2010 World Cup. The focused Tweetstorm during "Castle in the Sky" is tied to the practice of tweeting a key line of dialogue as it is spoken in the film.
miller60 writes: On July 1, 2012 the leap second time-handling bug caused many Linux servers to get stuck in a loop. Large data centers saw power usage spike, sometimes by megawatts. The resulting "server storm” prompted Facebook to develop new software for data center infrastructure management (DCIM) to manage its infrastructure, providing real-time data on everything from the servers to the generators. The incident also offered insights into the value of flexible power design in its server farmss, which kept the status updates flowing as the company nearly maxed out its power capacity.
miller60 writes: The U.S. government keeps finding more data centers. Federal agencies have about 7,000 data centers, according to the latest stats from the ongoing IT consolidation process. The number started at 432 in 1999, but soon began to rise as agencies found more facilities, and exploded once the Obama administration decided to include server closets as well as dedicated data centers. The latest estimate is more than double the 3,300 facilities the government thought it had last year. The process has led to the closure of 484 data centers thus far, with another 855 planned over the next year. The GAO continues to call for the process to look beyond the number of facilities and focus on savings.
miller60 writes: Mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments has developed its own factory-built data centers and will begin selling them to other companies. The company liked the benefits of modular data center design, including faster deployment and the ability to adapt to new technology, but was unsatisfied with the leading offerings, so it built its own. After using the design in its own facilities, Fidelity is commercializing its pre-fab units as Centercore. Fidelity's move follows the recent decision by another giant US brand, the retailer Sears Holdings, to enter the data center real estate market.
miller60 writes: Servers may soon fill the aisles where shoppers once roamed. Sears Holdings is seeking to convert former Sears and Kmart stores into Internet data hubs. Some stand-alone stores and distribution centers may be repurposed as data centers, while mall-based stores can be converted into disaster recovery sites, the company says, offering access to stores and eateries for displaced workers who may be on site for weeks. Then there's the wireless tower opportunity. Seventy percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Sears or Kmart store, and these rooftops can be leased to fill gaps in cell coverage. It's not the first effort to convert stores into IT infrastructure, as Rackspace is headquartered in an old mall, and companies have built data centers in malls in Indiana and Maryland. But Sears, which operates 25 million square feet of real estate, hopes to make this strategy work at scale.
miller60 writes: What if your company could have a data center delivered to its doorstep in less than 120 days? That's what IO has done for LexisNexis, using modular data centers to create a Tier III data center just minutes from the company's global headquarters in Dayton, Ohio. LexisNexis, which provides database and disaster recovery services for law firms, is the prototype customer for the on-site offering from IO, whose "data center in a box" offering is being adopted by Goldman Sachs and the Securities & Exchange Commission, which will use modules to house its EDGAR database. The concept has come a long way since Sun introduced the Blackbox container in 2006.