Distributed Heating or Computing Solution?


Imagine using the heat generated by a data center to warm homes. The team behind France-based, Qarnot Computing had such an idea and created a distributed data center solution that provides homeowners free heat and smart home capabilities in a compact unit. A smart software system that manages the compute nodes and process, together with a Fiber to the Home network is what it possible to distribute the data center into essentially a distributed supercomputer.

Qarnot CEO and Founder Paul Benoit explains that the system is robust as the software will remove a node from the computation process if there is failure or if someone tampers with a node. Further, data is not stored within a home, so they have been able to gain the trust of businesses and institutional customers.

The Q.rad digital heater takes the excess heat from the computations and directs it to the room. In a follow-up email, Benoit explains what happens on warmer days,

“Q.rads are regulated to respect target temperature (thermostat). So the computing power is naturally impacted by seasonality. We manage to keep a minimum capacity all year-long by using low power modes and by choosing adapted deployment sites. To be able to compute all-year round for some of our clients, Qarnot also starts to have partnerships with green data centers and to develop other products for sites that need warmth all year-long (water, industry/agriculture).”

From a consumer point of view, the Q.rad has over 20 sensors, including temperature, CO2, humidity, noise level, stereo microphones, presence IR, luminosity, pressure and Volatile Organic Compound. It has a variety of interfaces, including built-in speakers, capacitive motion detection, touch screen, Qi Wireless charging and USB charging. It communicates via WiFI, Bluetooth 4.0, EnOcean® wireless/battery-less home automation and gigabit Ethernet.

The opportunity for operators, particularly in northern states, would be to use their FTTH networks to provide the gigabit Ethernet needed to drive this distributed data center approach. Perhaps, “heat” could be the next layer to an operator’s bundle. Imagine the tag line, “Our latest bundle will keep you warm.