Tag Archives: green

Is a Bloom Box in every home the future?

I have just spotted a great write up over on TechCrunch regarding a Silicon Valley start-up called Bloom Energy.

They claim to have invented a power cell the size of a house brick that can generate enough power for a small family home. They even claim that the likes of FedEx, Google and eBay are already using their products in the real world.

60 Minutes have done a report on the company, it’s technology and it’s vision

You have to see this!

Is it the future?

I know if the price was right, I could be tempted.

Is it real or ever going to go mainstream?

Who knows but I wish I had a stake in it right now.

Video : The Bloom Box on CBS 60 Minutes

Going Green: A new ultra efficient server

As with my last post, in my challenge to save some polar bears, I am on a drive to cut my energy consumption.

So my office is the main culprit and in that office are a couple of servers that obviously run 24×7. These were clearly my first target.

So my home server does a number of things but it’s primary role is as file storage and backups plus it also runs VMware so I can test out software and run things like our home CCTV software that refuses to run on anything except a Windows XP box.

So after a little bit of research, I could see that the Intel Atom chipset was the way to go.

Over the last few years, Intel have been producing low energy processors initially for the Netbook market but now for anything that needs to keep power consumption down. A little bit of digging revealed that Intel have just launched their Atom D510 CPU which is a dual core hyper threading chip that runs at 1.66GHz and supports a full 64bit instruction set.

Intel package this already welded to a motherboard so ship this as a pre configured unit the Intel D510M

Intel D510MO

As you can see, this thing has passive cooling (so it runs silent) and just about everything on board. It does have a single PCI slot just in case. It’s also really really small.

So to turn this into a fully working PC, all I have needed to buy is a case, some RAM and a hard drive.

So I have loaded this thing up with 4GB of RAM, a 2.5” laptop hard drive and a nice small form factor case. All my storage is external using SATA HDD caddies so what I have ended up with is this.

Home Server

All of this is drawing less than 60 watts when running flat out which is impressive to say the least.

But how does such a tiny PC perform?

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Well we are running Windows Server 2008 R2 64bit and then I am running VMware Server which in turn has a couple of XP virtual machines running on it right now.

Task Manager

So this is impressive

Speccy

Of course the really impressive thing is the heat. Remember this uses passive cooling.

And even though all of this looks good, it keeps getting better as this whole lot cost less than £200 delivered!

So I have now gone from 2 servers, each running at 200W (so 400W in total if you haven’t got a calculator to hand) to 1 server that is running silent, cool and even with all those hard drives, less than 60W.

For those that are interested, I think this setup would be fantastic to run Windows Home Server on if that’s your thing

In any case, I think I have saved my first polar bear.

I think I have killed a polar bear

It’s true. I fear the melting polar ice caps and global warming might all be my fault!

Let me explain

When we moved into our new energy efficient home Three and a bit years ago I spent a lot of time and effort trying to sort out our electricity supply. It wasn’t that the lights didn’t work or that the cables weren’t in the right place, just that nobody would admit to being our supplier and so each quarter I would pay my gas bill, pay my water bill and so on but was always very aware that I was missing an electricity bill.

So it got to the point where I spoke to the regulator who told me that the rules had just changed and that if a power company fails to bill you, when they do eventually realise, the most they can back bill you is 12 months. At this point I gave up writing letters and making phone calls to random power companies on the basis that with every month that passed, that was one more months worth of electricity I would not have to pay for.

I was however aware that “one day” a bill would arrive so in our new and super efficient home, we have replaced every single light bulb with energy efficient ones and made sure all our appliances are A rated.

So just before Christmas, that day did indeed come

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However once I had explained to the power company that their rules stated that they could not bill me for the full Three and a half years and then we had negotiated a little more, the final bill was not painful at all.

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All’s well that ends well as they say.

But now I need to start paying for my electricity and this does focus the mind. I am also in a position to actually shop around now for the best deal on both my electricity and gas so as a result, over the last few days I have taken a good hard look at out homes electricity usage.

Now on gas, things are looking really good. Based on industry figures, our gas usage based on the size of house and the fact we use gas for hot water and heat is over 33% below average. I put part of this down to using a Heatmieser electronic thermostat that paid for itself on the first bill and partly down to having a home insulated to the latest regulations.

But electricity is looking bad. Apparently for a house like ours the average usage is 4000 to 5000 kWh per year. Our usage is over 8000 kWh so is not looking healthy. Now my wife was quick to point out that that in my home office (which I rebuilt and refitted over Christmas), I have over FIFTY 3 pin mains sockets in use. Yes that’s 5 x 10 gang power strips and they are all in use. Look deeper and there are the 2 servers, lots and lots of hard disks, 1 desktop PC, a couple of laptops, network hardware, 5 large screen monitors, 2 laser printers and a really nice lava lamp.

I think we have found the culprit. The lava lamp has to go.

So over the next few months, I need to take a close look at power consumption. My first stop will be tools to actually measure usage but beyond that I need to look at how I can turn all this tech green. I will be posting here as I go and please feel free to comment with ideas and things that have worked for you.

Who knows. By this time next year, I could even have saved a penguin or Two.