In the golden days, mining for rare minerals and gems was always an enticing proposition for prospectors and dreamers. It’s associated with taking calculated risks to earn a bigger stake in a secure future. The same can be said about today’s digital mining expeditions in the form of crypto currency. Crypto miners risk using a lot of resources, such as compute, network and power, to obtain a virtual goldmine in blockchain digital ledgers.
Cryptocurrency mining, or cryptomining, is a process in which transactions for various forms of cryptocurrency are verified and added to blockchain’s digital ledger. Also known as cryptocoin mining, altcoin mining, or bitcoin mining (for the most popular form of cryptocurrency, bitcoin), this practice has increased both as a topic and activity as cryptocurrency usage has grown exponentially in the last few years. Let’s use the most popular crypto currency—bitcoin —as an example. Bitcoin mining requires specialized high-performance hardware that can solve computational algorithms at a high speed, with accuracy and efficiency.
How does this current craze affect the datacenter industry? The demand for hardware is going up exponentially each day. Also growing is the need for datacenters to equip their facilities with enough power to handle the demand and cooling for the heat-generating hardware. This results in increasingly more power usage.
According to The Economist, although chipmakers continually improve the efficiency of computation relative to power, bitcoin’s automatic reset means that as long as there is money to be made, miners will consume more power. As a result, datacenters, electricity and servers
will need constant upgrading. If cryptocurrency was to stay at its recent price of $8,000, power usage of the bitcoin network would peak at 7.67 gigawatts (or 67 terawatt hours of energy annually, representing one-fifth of Britain’s energy use).
The University of Cambridge has created the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI), a tool that calculates the amount of electricity used by bitcoin mining. CBECI estimates that the total electricity production worldwide is about 25,082 terawatt hours and bitcoin mining itself uses up to 25% of that total production. For reference, that’s enough capacity to power a country such as Kuwait, Switzerland or Czechia.
Datacenters must remain highly aware of bitcoin miners because this growing breed represents a risk to their reliability and resiliency as they consume so much allocated power. What can facilities due to protect themselves? Utilizing Software Defined Power (SDP) can help optimize power utilization by enabling intelligent power to distribute and adjust dynamically as demand fluctuates across the facility using ICE (Intelligent Control of Power) compatible hardware. Combined with machine learning and big data analytics, bitcoin power profiles are identified during a period of time, and SDP then can forecast the next big peak power surge.
Partnered with ICE-compatible hardware, these power peaks can be mitigated by using stored energy to supply the demand needed by these power-hungry workloads. This approach also protects other datacenter power assets downstream of the UPS while maintaining and even improving the facility’s reliability and resiliency. SDP empowers datacenter operators to maximize their power systems by unlocking stranded power typically reserved for failovers.
In concert with other SDP features, including dynamic power and workload orchestration, datacenter operators can assign policies to IT workloads, racks and rows. Then SDP’s automation prowess can manage how power is distributed and actively move workloads as needed.
Intrepid datacenter operators are always looking for tools to improve their facilities, while the more panic-stricken variety stay stagnant. As SDP continues to gain traction within datacenters worldwide, more and more hardware manufacturers have decided to build products with intelligence by embedding ICE compatibility. It’s a good bet because prospecting does not have to be so risky when SDP is at the heart of the solution.