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Old Phones Get New Life in High-Powered Computer Servers

Outdated smartphone handsets.

Researchers at Princeton University have demonstrated how old smartphones can be used to build computer servers.

Credit: David Kelly Crow

Researchers at Princeton University have demonstrated that old smartphones can be used to build computer servers at much lower cost than high-end servers.

"You can get decommissioned smartphones at low cost because used phones are inexpensive and no one else wants them," says Princeton professor David Wentzlaff. He also notes lower operational costs partly stem from the smartphone batteries' energy efficiency.

The researchers say a server could be composed of 80 to 100 smartphones placed in a mobile device cage in a specially designed metal box. Wentzlaff says the phones will be wired together and linked by an Ethernet connection to combine the computing power of the individual chips, and the metal box addresses concerns about possible fires sparked by lithium batteries.

"In most of the scenarios, our cost of ownership is cheaper when compared to an industrial server that has the same computational, memory, and storage capacity," notes Princeton's Mohammad Shahrad.

From Princeton University
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