Heating homes with computing power

French engineer Paul Benoit has developed a heating system that can crunch big data as well.

Photo credit: Qarnot

Photo credit: Qarnot


As anyone who has ever used a laptop can confirm, computers generate heat. This fact didn’t escape French engineer Paul Benoit as he was working in the computer department of a bank 10 years ago. The competitive advantage of ever increasing computing power and capacity meant that more and more computer servers were connected, which generated so much heat that the bank had to spend lots of power to cool them down. But instead of cooling them down, why not use the heat?

Benoit pondered this phenomenon and devised a plan to benefit from the heat. He founded Qarnot Computing, which sells computing capacity to corporate clients. This digital heater, called Q.rad, is essentially a multi-processor HPC server that uses the generated computing heat as central heating. Clients benefit by avoiding costs related to infrastructure, maintenance, and cooling, whilst enjoying free heating.

Unlike datacenters, the Q.rad can be easily rolled out in any type of building or housing structure. The system can even be used in individual houses, not just large corporate buildings. But what if the client would like more heating although there’s not enough work for the computers to do? No problem, the company offers that spare capacity to university labs for free. An added bonus is that Qarnot even reimburses people for the electricity their digital heaters use, which means they get their heating for free.

With demand for big data computing increasing, Qarnot offers an ideal cost-effective solution with the added environmental benefit. Hopefully more innovators will follow in their footsteps.

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