One of the interesting things that came out of an interview I did with the Wall Street Journal was that someone else, in this case Michael Casey, picked up on something that few do – there is another operations model that most companies don’t consider when thinking about a data center strategy – especially for the upper realm of power (and cooling) densities which is a ‘follow the cold’ model.
What we discussed was the problem that Bitcoin Mining companies will have in the Northern Hemisphere as summer approaches – more heat. Mining is great when it’s cold out because a rig can help heat 1,000 square feet. So you’re making Bitcoin AND heating your living space and getting a double benefit because what you are paying for electricity to mine will also cover heating costs because the rig is turning electricity into heat just like any other computer. Now that winter is over in the Northern Hemisphere and Summer is on the way, that formula isn’t very attractive.
That same electricity that is making Bitcoin is now a liability because the last thing you want is more heat when it’s 100 degrees outside already. So you need to pay for electricity to cool your living space AND to make sure the rig doesn’t get wonky because it goes outside its operating temperature. You’re paying double for power to do the same thing. So how does a miner normalize things?
One simple and pretty basic way to do it is to follow the cold. Ship rigs to a place in the Southern Hemisphere and plug them in so you get the heat benefit when the climate is ideal for it. The things to figure out will be cost of electricity, any language barrier issues, and security of the facility and/or the operator. You don’t want to ship an expensive rig or handful of rigs to a place that sells them out the back of their remote mountain top hideaway because he doesn’t have electricity to begin with.
I still think the way to mine, and make money, is to only do it at scale and move off of air cooling. It’s too expensive when you run hot machines. Look at liquid cooling like the solution from Allied Control that has already deployed it for a mining operation in a challenging environment – Hong Kong. Then you can stay put, mine, and make money – as tempting as shipping your rig to an exotic cold spot for the Winter down under might be…