[Beowulf] urgent: cost of fire suppression?

Mark Hahn hahn at mcmaster.ca
Fri Apr 22 08:29:53 PDT 2016

> in stark contrast to the environmentally friendly-ness of super computers
> and clusters...

I assume this was sarcasm, but then I was trying to think about 
what, in a datacenter, is particularly "dirty".  sheetmetal and wire
are not inherently clean industries, but they're also well-established
and well-regulated, which means that the destruction-per-unit is low.
(steel for cases is presumably part-scrap like most sheetmetal;
I imagine the recycle rate for copper is pretty high too.  perhaps even
for Al (disk drives).)  there's a fair amount of plastic, to be sure,
but again: since your cables will be used for 5-7 years, they're not 
in the same universe of dirtiness as consumer junk.  PC boards are glass
fiber and polymer, not that easy to dispose of, but not evil (like the 
encapsulating plastic in chips).  silicon devices are pretty green as well,
since although a big plant has a big footprint, that's amortized over 
billions of units.

power seems the most reasonable environmental complaint,
but our systems are certainly not wasteful of that, since 
it's the easiest thing to tweak.  it's also a pretty linear
function of demand, and it's also improving drastically
(unlike the env footprint of copper or steel or plastic.)

phew, glad I got that off my chest ;)
I can go back to feeling guilty about my 1996 gasoline car...

regards, mark hahn.

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