Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Say watt again. SAY WATT AGAIN"

Joules, old boy.

The conversations around the topic of "Green Computing" have focussed very much upon the management of heat loads in the metaphor of power. The technology itself heads toward a lower unit consumption of power production of heat due to smaller geometry as balanced against higher densities.

Once upon a time, R. Buckminster Fuller looked at the Spaceship Earth problems of electrical distribution and posited that the total capacities of power could on a global basis (more or less) be reduced (ceteris paribus) if the power grids of the whole world were deeply interconnected.
Sunny side of the planet, dark side of the planet, lighting from the sun, lighting from electricity, factories on, factories off. With some nit picking regarding transmission losses, etc. the proposition yields an interesting gedanken experiment vis a vis networks of computers and networks of storage. With some form of daily (whatever) variations, moving workloads, comprised of payloads of data and eventually application pieces, could let one reduce a given site's "peak capacity" through clever movement of processing.

Yes, latency. Yes, transmission capacities. Yes, etc.

But forms of this more agile distributive model come to us from, gasp, BitTorrent and other computing structures. For anyone who lives with real technology, the working model is that the solution will not be perfect (obsolete as it gets plugged in, in fact) but that the solution should be measurably "better".

We're living in a material world. You go girl.

" Metals recirculate on a sum-total-of-all-metals-average every 22 1/2 years....
I was able to arrive at that figure of a 22 1/2-year metals recirculating cycle in 1936. I was working for Phelps Dodge Co., which had asked me to give them some prognostications about the uses of copper in the future of world industry."

R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path

Part of the Green computing ecosystem has been and will be the interaction of design for life cycles from a Cradle To Cradle point of view, increasing pressure on key materials in the computing industry (rare earths, gold), and improving recognition of the value of these materials in the cycle of creation, use, deconstruction, and re use. Fuller looked in particular at copper cycling through the system; the recycling of component materials in computing, however, has only recently become a design requirement. (LeRoy Budnik noted the "drive that will not die" in a recent post here.)

But the materials will be better "designed" to enable reuse in part because of "goodness" but principally because it makes sound organizational sense from the view of economics.

That the trend of ephemeralization (the less is more than more koan) cuts into this olio will be saved for another time.

When I have the erg.

With apologies.

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