Google showing energy efficient data center design

A little dirty secret in the computer industry is that while computers and particularly CPU’s have gotten more powerful, likewise their power consumption has gone up dramatically. Also, for the server business heat release ergo cooling systems have become much more expensive, taking up as much as 40-50 % of all energy uses inside data centers. Combine this with web 2.0 business models, that often assume millions of users with a low ARPU (average revenue per user), and it becomes clear that business wise you have to make sure your power consumption is kept as low as possible. And of course, with global warming and green energy being a major issue these days you have another reason to become aware of your power consumption.

Google has been very secretive of their server and data center design. They own dozens of data centers around the world, trying to get as close as possible to the end user while reducing reliance on a limited set of data center and network backbones. Last week more details were released about their home grown server design. Keywords: completely Google custom, standard cheap components, all power is 12 Volt, on board battery instead of shared UPS usage. Also they showed their design of data centers, which is very interesting. Keywords: shipping containers as standard unit filled with servers within the data center, highly optimised air conditioning and efficient water usage.

Further reading: 

I got a Macbook!

OK, I have to admit: being in charge of my own finances and knowing the difference between buying hardware as a company compared to buying stuff as a private person has turned me into a person that eh well is slightly more likely to buy stuff:). So only a month after getting my Asus EEE I got an Apple Macbook. Yihay!

So why? Well, not to replace my Dell XPS machine, which has been my faithful companion for the last 8  months I have worked as a freelancer. With 4 GB memory it runs Vista just fine. No, for 2 reasons I wanted to get a Mac: first, to be able to test my web sites on a Mac, as more and more users have Macs. Second, to be able to develop Iphone apps. As mobility is important to me, a laptop was a natural choice. A 15 inch Macbook pro would have been a more productive option, but equally more expensive. So I settled for a Macbook 13 inch.

So what is my first impression? I never owed a Mac, but worked quite a lot with Macs like Apple Classic at the universities I studied. So I have some experience with them, but not too much recently. So getting to know the specifics of Mac OS X will get some time. For instance I am used to type blindly, so doing Apple-C instead of Ctrl-C etc. will take some time. Also Ctrl-Home doesn’t really seem to have a Mac equivalent. Of course operating the new trackpad will take to get used to, but is already fun. Increasing the font size by just swiping two fingers is a breeze, haven’t tried apps that allow rotating images yet. Resize/minimize/maximize buttons are located at the left top hand corner, not right as on Windows. And maximizing works differently.

Of course under the hood is a real Unix (FreeBSD) operating system, so within 15 minutes I was having a go at the terminal. Quite a relief to type in a command like  locate java | grep -c class. There is a lot preinstalled, like Java, and even Maven (although not the version I need). A root account you need to activate first, but after that you can change what you want, su-ing to root first.

What does it look like? Well perfect of course, it’s Apple. The aluminum case is perfect, and so is the LED screen. Quite sharp, but a bit shiny/reflective.

How does it perform? Pretty good, Eclipse runs just fine with 2 Gb of memory. Hard drive is not too fast, but still pretty fast. But what is really remarkable to me is battery life: 4-5 hours. My XPS does 1-1.5 hours, what a difference. I don’t know if it is because the laptop is so efficient or the battery is so good, but it is impressive. Also it is pretty cool, perfect to have this machine on your lap.

Overall, I am quite happy with my machine. I downloaded the Iphone SDK and am anxiously awaiting my Iphone. Will be a lot of fun!

More reviews:

http://gizmodo.com/5063492/macbook-and-macbook-pro-dual-review

http://online.wsj.com/video/mossberg-reviews-new-macbook/5143CE13-603E-438B-8E39-5FDE666726E3.html

http://www.obsessable.com/news/2008/10/16/warhammer-online-on-a-macbook-2008-running-xp/


Asus EEE PC 900 review from the trenches

I like being connected at a conference, for instance to watch the twitter flow during presentations. I wanted something in between my Dell XPS 1530 laptop and Nokia N95 mobile phone, so I was thinking about a socalled netbook. After some research, I bought an Asus Eee PC 900. This netbook that practically defined this category is a 9 inch Linux based laptop with a screen at 1024 x 600. It has a 20 GB SSD disk and 1 GB memory. I took it to the test at Future of Webapps conference in London a couple of weeks ago. There have been some reviews around, but I wanted to share with you my personal experience.

First my requirements for a netbook:

  1. dispensable: so cheap and not containing any vital information (which rules out bringing my main laptop)
  2. light: easy to carry around
  3. proper keyboard: typing long messages on a N95 phone becomes difficult after some time..
  4. Standard browser installed that can show web sites in a normal way.
  5. Good Wifi
  6. Good battery life

So how does the EEE hold up in practice?:

  1. Dispensable: at 300 euro’s yes I say it is dispensable, and as it is not my main laptop I do not store important data on it. That’s a yes
  2. Light: less than a kilo, so yes. Of course it can’t fit in a pocket, but that should speak for itself
  3. Proper keyboard: party. Yes it has to fit a 9 inch netbook, so of course it is smaller than a normal keyboard. I am used to typing blind with 10 fingers, well I can’t on this machine. Although I have pretty small fingers that is not possible, so I have to type with 4 fingers, and look a lot at the keyboard. That’s a yes/no
  4. Standard browser: yes. It has Firefox 3 installed with Flash.
  5. Good wifi: well, I can’t connect it to Airport networks. And although everybody was suffering from less-than-perfect wifi at the Excel convention center, my machine seems to be outperformed by others. That’s a yes/no
  6. Good battery life: at 3 hours it’s not bad, but also not excellent. The adapter is not heavy and the cord is long enough though.

Overall rating: a 7 out of 10. It’s dirt cheap, light and runs Firefox in a pretty normal resolution. Typing you have to get used to though, and the wifi could be better. Performance is ok, although Youtube videos are not as smooth on a real machine. Normal browsing performance is perfect. It has more than enough input/output like USB and VGA, for me the webcam wasn’t necessary.