Microsoft uses AI to boost its reuse, recycling of server parts

Microsoft is bringing artificial intelligence to the task of sorting through millions of servers to determine what can be recycled and where. The new initiative calls for the building of so-called Circular Centers at Microsoft data centers around the world, where AI algorithms will be used to sort through parts from decommissioned servers or other hardware and figure out which parts can be reused on the campus.

Microsoft says it has more than three million servers and related hardware in its data centers, and that a server’s average lifespan is about five years. Plus, Microsoft is expanding globally, so its server numbers should increase. Circular Centers are all about quickly sorting through the inventory rather than tying up overworked staff. Microsoft plans to increase its reuse of server parts by 90% by 2025. “Using machine learning, we will process servers and hardware that are being decommissioned onsite,” wrote Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, in a blog post announcing the initiative. “We’ll sort the pieces that can be reused and repurposed by us, our customers, or sold.”

A Circular Center pilot in an Amsterdam data center reduced downtime and increased the availability of server and network parts for its own reuse and buy-back by suppliers, according to Microsoft. It also reduced the cost of transporting and shipping servers and hardware to processing facilities, which lowered carbon emissions. Microsoft has an expressed goal of being “carbon negative” by 2030, and this is just one of several projects. Recently Microsoft announced it had conducted a test at its system developer’s lab in Salt Lake City where a 250kW hydrogen fuel cell system powered a row of server racks for 48 hours straight, something the company says has never been done before.

Source: Network World

Author: Kirsi Seppänen