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From Data Centers to Computronium and Riding Light

So at work we discussed Data Center Design at scale, and then things got out of hand. We ended up discussing Computronium, a hypothetical stuff  that basically is a piece of thinking matter, performing computation, the ultimate composable piece of hardware.

Computronium is a problem, though. You can’t just cover the planet in a crunchy Computronium crust – not only because the Hotels have to go somewhere. But also, because whatever thickness of Computronium you propose, it has to be powered somehow.

Ultimately, it has to be powered by the amount of energy hitting us from the sun. So there is likely a Dyson sphere behind the earth or elsewhere, collecting even more energy from the sun and sending it into the Computronium.

Also, waste heat – you need even more entropy differential to get rid of the energy you beam into the Computronium after the computation has turned into waste heat. Convection cooling does not work in space, so radiators into background radiation are a necessity.

I bet a Computronium optimised planet does not look very much like a planet any more, and a lot more like the International Space Station. Which is cool, but probably not a good holiday destination for all people.

So how about we build our Data Centers on Mars, keeping the Earth a Risa-like resort planet? But then, Bandwidth Delay Product is a bitch, and Light Is Really Slow. Nobody really wants to wait 30 Minutes for an Ack of their Booking from Mars. Planetary Scale computing is really hard.

Riding Light is a video that shows how slow light really is, or rather, how big space is:

You can think of Suns with life carrying planets as hydrothermal vents, and Space inbetween as a vast, lifeless, energy poor void that is best crossed by not-existing for the duration of travel. David Brin had it right, in Existence.

Published inData CentersFluffy FluffScience


  1. Patrick Schaaf

    You don’t wait for each booking ACK from mars. You fork your consciousness, send it over, it browses and choses and books, and comes back for reintegration with your receipt.

  2. Martin

    I expect L1 and L2 (~10s latency) would be better than Mars.

  3. The latency could be solved by Quantum entanglement, but then we have a bandwidth limitation. On the other side, we could just do Internet over Quantum entanglement in general, instead of radio waves. That would be working for simple servcices, but not for example for streaming. But (non live) streaming does not need low latency, a good buffering mechanism should by far be enough. And even TV and Radio had a bit of latency for like always?
    But luckily you dont need this much bandwidth for Hotel stuff, just the photos could get problematic. But content does not need so much computing power, so we could keep a cdn on earth.

  4. Björn

    Quantum entanglement is NOT able to avoid transmission delay. The latter is fundamental to the nature of spacetime. Indeed, the whole idea of Computronium is nonsense. All you’d achieve is a speedup in gaining entropy by the useless attempt to avoid it. Every information gain is traded off by a higher gain of entropy (meaning information loss).

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