The Foundation for the Next Generation of Datacenter Technology

Superspin research project aims to drive more energy efficient computing

Tech Crunch, April 15, 2016. Image credit: StockSnap

Scientists at Cambridge University are working on combining two fields of solid state physics research, spintronics and superconductors, in order to develop what they hope could become the foundation for the next generation of datacenter technology — perhaps within the next decade.

Data centers are the engines of the digital economy. But they are also very energy intensive in their own right — with the researchers citing estimates that some three per cent of the power generated in Europe is already being used by data centers.

One impetus for the research is therefore to apply ‘superspin’ technology to substantially reduce the power consumption of high performance computing and data storage. Superconductors allow for the propagation of electrical charge without electronic resistance, and therefore hold out the tantalizing promise — in computing kit terms — of carrying electronic charge with zero energy loss.

The crunch question is: is the energy required to cool going to be smaller than current energy loss due to the energy efficiency of spintronics. If it costs more to cool than it currently does in terms of what we lose, currently, then it’s not worth it. That’s what we’re exploring.

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