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Dutch companies try warming homes with cloud servers

Cheap cloud computing, free heat, sick kids cured … but will your clothes dry?

By Simon Sharwood, 25 Mar 2015

Dutch companies Nerdalize and Eneco, the former a startup, the latter an energy company, have started a trial of cloud servers as home heaters.

The idea is that by placing servers in homes, where a cheap source of heat is a good thing, you don't need to build data centres, where heat is a bad thing. In exchange for hosting a leased server, households get heat for rather less than would otherwise be the case. Humanity gets to expend one lot of energy for computing and heating, rather than one for heating and one for cooling.

Nerdalize says that its work-from-home servers (depicted above) can offer a cloud to compare with any other and even operate at 55 per cent less than the cost of traditional hosting. Servers can run Docker, boast a solid state disk and come with up to 32GB of RAM for each CPU.

The two companies have assembled a happy jangly-music-backed video in which homeowners say they can't tell the difference between the server/heater and a normal heater, while a boffin from the Leiden University Medical Centre says his research just needs servers, no matter where they may be.

Nerdalize and Eneco are trying this out in five homes for now, and Eneco's taken a stake in the startup.

Neither company is saying just what's in the server/heater but the video features a heater-hosting couple reporting the device is silent. The Reg's cloud desk is therefore willing to guess the servers within are fanless, no bad thing given moving parts in hundreds of homes would be a maintenance nightmare.

We've asked for more details on that and whether it's possible to ask the servers be over-clocked, to help Nerdalize offer more grunt and to crank up the server/heater when recently-washed jeans need to be dried in a hurry. ®

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