Ride A Bike, Power A Data Center?

In a display of alternative energy, a team of ten MIT students powered a supercomputer for 20 minutes by pedaling bicycles.

Those crazy kids at MIT have come up with a novel approach to generating electricity for power-hungry computing applications: pedaling their bikes really fast. A team of ten MIT students powered a supercomputer for 20 minutes by pedaling bicycles. They duly claimed the world record for "human-powered computing."

Alas, like many other alternative energy sources, the MIT solution may not scale well for data center usage. The supercomputing system used in the demonstration - a Linux cluster of 648 CPUs and almost 1TB of main memory in a single cabinet- uses low power SciCortex chips and supposedly draws about 1,200 watts. Before you start strapping grad students onto bikes to power your data center, realize that the math suggests It would probably take the entire energy output of the Tour de France. To see how it works, here's a video from the MIT team. There are additional details at Computerworld, and discussion underway at Slashdot.