In today’s time, when there is a growing demand for technology, the pressure is on for companies to make their operations as sustainable and “green” as possible. Take a look at what cloud HPC provider Qarnot did.
This French startup is standardizing the process of running a data center as it reuses fatal heat and turns this into an asset.
Qarnot wants to take it to the next level. It has raised an estimated $13.4 million funding round and also negotiated an approximately $24.17 million credit line to finance its projects in the future.
Participating companies in the recent funding round include Société Générale Ventures, ADEME Investissement, Demeter, la Banque des Territoires, and Colam Impact.
Qarnot began with electric heaters for construction companies searching for heaters for their new buildings. This startup put servers in those heaters so that CPUs and other components would be able to generate heat. The rest of the heater would then act as a passive cooling system, warming residential and office establishments.
At the other end, companies such as Société Générale, BNP Paribas, and Illumination, a 3D animation studio, are renting those servers for their own requirements. It is touted as an innovative way of building decentralized data centers.
Qarnot co-founder and chief executive officer Paul Benoit said, “Ever since we launched Qarnot 12 years ago, our goal has been to valorize fatal heat from computers. Today, it’s a hot topic and there are a lot of people talking about it.”
However, the primary issue with that system is you do not need a heater all year round. Thus, Qarnot has found a way to counter this seasonality effect by creating a new product: scalable boiler systems.
These modules pack up to 12 servers with a standard form factor based on Open Compute Project server designs with Intel Xeon and AMD Epyc CPUs. Each module is then connected to the water system, so the cold water enters the module and is converted into hot water. Up to 95 percent of computer waste heat is turned into hot water.
When asked about the seasonality of these central heating boilers, the company indicated that heating networks work all year round. For instance, they produce hot water, which is required all the time.
“We want to tackle the baseload. We’re going to run all year round and the heating network is going to rely on a complementary source,” Benoit further noted.
They also added that buildings or neighborhoods will still utilize electricity or natural gas directly for those cold winter nights.
Qarnot can provide several modules and make them work in parallel. It generates more hot water and increases the total compute power of the Qarnot platform.
The Qarnot co-founder added, “The idea is that we should be able to deploy data centers in locations where people consume heat. It’s a completely different approach compared to traditional data centers.”
Clients include property developers, social landlords, swimming pools, local authorities, and heating network operators. The French startup has already rolled out a pilot data center located in Finland with 100kW of compute. Though it is a small data center, the company is already looking at other locations with 500kW up to a few MW of compute capacity.
“With our system, you don’t need a cooling system and we can sell the heat that is generated from our servers,” Benoit stated. “In the data center industry, when you have servers that require 1kW, they also require up to 500W in air conditioning.”
This is crucial to understanding Qarnot’s appeal. From a business point-of-view, the French startup uses electricity in two different ways. It runs computers and sells heat, which is excellent for its bottom line. From an environmental point-of-view, the company significantly improves the data centers’ carbon footprint.
“We think the future looks like a plethora of mid-sized data centers,” Benoit said. “Edge computing is slowly showing up. Today, we don’t really know how it’s going to look like but we know that there are operators looking for hundreds of data centers with a few kilowatts of capacity.”
Qarnot could profoundly revolutionize the data center industry with this. If it becomes incredibly successful, there would be no need to build dedicated establishments just to host hundreds of thousands of computers.