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Cloud upstart offers free heat if you host its edge servers

That's one way to counteract rising energy prices – but do you want to sit next to a DC?

A UK cloud startup is offering to install its edge server hardware physically within organizations to provide free heat, in exchange for reducing its own location and cooling costs.

deep green in solution

Literally an IT solution ... Deep Green's server gear in cooling fluid

But don't expect you can use the scheme to get your home electric bill down: it confirmed to us it is "business only."

Deep Green is claiming a British first for its particular setup, which provides heat to businesses and public swimming pools, reducing their energy bills. It involves a mini datacenter deployment with the IT equipment immersed in a liquid cooling fluid (described as a mineral oil by Deep Green) with a heat exchanger to transfer the heat energy on to where it is needed.

The technology has already been deployed at Exmouth Leisure Centre in south west England, where the waste heat from a dozen servers is being used to warm the swimming pool. This is expected to reduce the pool's energy requirements by 62 percent, saving them over £20,000 ($24,334) a year and also reducing their carbon dioxide emissions, we're told.

This deployment will be followed by further installations in Bristol and Manchester in the near future, according to Deep Green. The company installs the kit for free, and also covers the electricity and maintenance costs of the infrastructure.

Similar projects using waste heat from datacenters are already in use at various locations, though usually on a much larger scale, recycling the heat from an entire datacenter to be used by a local community. Such a scheme was announced by Microsoft in Finland last year, and by Netherlands datacenter outfit Bytesnet.

(In fact, the concept of heating buildings and homes using servers is something we've all heard before, again and again.)

Deep Green is proposing modest installations that can be deployed into individual businesses or sites. "By moving datacenters from industrial warehouses into the hearts of communities, our 'digital boilers' put waste heat to good use, saving local businesses thousands of pounds on energy bills and reducing their carbon footprint," claimed chief executive Mark Bjornsgaard.

He added that swimming pools are just the start, and estimated about 30 percent of all industrial and commercial heating requirements could be met by this technology.

We asked what Deep Green gets out of the deal, and the biz claimed it costs less for them to install and operate an edge datacenter at a business site than it would otherwise cost to operate the same servers at a commercial colocation facility or run its own datacenter infrastructure. It also removes the need for huge energy-consuming air conditioning units, the company said.

When we asked what options customers have on the heating side, Deep Green said its tech could be used with a plate heat exchanger to provide water heating or "in combination with other heating systems (air handling, heat pumps etc) as part of a portfolio solution to meet other heat requirements."

In addition, The Reg also asked about which customers purchased its compute services, and which servers it is using.

A Deep Green spokesperson told us the servers are "AMD Epyc single CPU servers configured with 4x A100 80Gb PCIe GPUs and 4TB of SSD storage on open chassis to ensure the most efficient heat transfer."

They added: "We are renting them for use in AI training and machine learning workloads currently – however [we] also can offer [for example] cloud services and video rendering."

We suppose that if one of these above systems was kicking out about 2.5kW of heat, with a sufficiently efficient transfer, a couple of them could replace a typical 5kW modest pool heater. Then keep adding machines to suit the size pool you want to warm up, or whatever.

It would appear to us that realistically Deep Green hopes to first help offset people's heating costs with its machines pitching in waste warmth, and gradually build up to substantial installations that can provide significant heating to organizations.

In other words, the hardware typically for now supplements boilers and whatnot already in place, rather than replace them.

deep green explainer

Deep Green's master plan ... Click to enlarge

On the customer-facing side, Deep Green is punting cloud services powered by Dell servers with Nvidia GPUs, including HPC clusters for machine learning or AI applications. ®

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