Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hot chips are harmful to web hosting

A friend of mine is looking for a dedicated server for his web site, I suggest him to choose AMD64 based solution, performance is one reason, heat is another. I told him AMD CPUs produce far less heat and use far less electricity.

My friend said: "But the data center pays for electricity and the electricity is included in the monthly fee".

Well, he was only partially right. Although from a cost perspective, power consumption does not seem to be a direct issue, but heat harms system reliability. Larger power consumption means larger current, and larger heat dissipation on all system components, such as capacitors. Long term exposure will reduce the mean time to failure of capacitors and hard drives and even fans. For example, at higher temperatures, the lubricant of the mechanical parts will evaporate (molecules escape into the air), and the parts will eventually burn out due to friction. When that happens, the host will replace the hardware for free, but there will be down time and data loss for sure. You won't experience problems initially, but after a year or so, you may see the effect.

A web host takes their total cost and averages it to set a price. Choosing reliable and low power solutions help reduce the total cost of a web host, and the benefit can be eventually passed back to the customers.

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