Cloud computing is not the energy hog expected

Cloud computing is not the energy hog expected

The computer engine that houses the digital economy has become amazingly energy efficient.

A new survey by data centers around the world found that while their computing output increased sixfold from 25 to 2018, their fuel consumption increased by only 6 percent. Scientific discoveries have raised concerns that the rise of huge data centers will greatly boost electricity demand and pollution.

The main strength behind improvement efficiency is the shift to cloud computing. In the cloud model, businesses and individuals consume computing via the Internet as a service, from raw computation and data storage to search and social networks.

The largest cloud data centers, sometimes owned by the size of football fields, and operated by big technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.

Each of these elaborate digital factories, housing thousands of computers, racks on racks, is an energy-hungry behemoth. Some are built near the Arctic for natural cooling, and others are adjacent to large hydroelectric plants northwest of the Pacific Ocean.

Nevertheless, they are standard setters in terms of the amount of power required for a computing task. “The public thinks that these huge data centers are energy bad guys,” says Eric Masnett, lead author of the study. “But those data centers are the most efficient in the world”

The results of the study were Published on Thursday In an article in the journal Science. It was five scientists from Northwestern University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an independent research firm. The project was funded by the Department of Finance and a grant from a Northeastern alumnus who is an environmental donor

The new study is in stark contrast to the often-quoted forecast that fuel costs in the world’s data centers are set to triple, perhaps three times or more in the next decade. The authors of the study say that worrying projections are simplistic extrapolation and what-if situations that are largely centered on the growing demand for data center computing.

In contrast, the new study is an analysis that collects multiple data sources of data center processors, storage, software, networking and cooling to estimate actual power consumption. They conclude, that many efficiency improvements have allowed the computer’s output to rise sharply while the power consumption was largely flat.

“We are hopeful that this research will reset people’s insights about data centers and energy consumption,” said a former scientist at the Berkeley lab who is an independent researcher.

Over the years, data center electricity use has become a story of economic enthusiasm and technological advancement in tackling a problem.

From 2000 to 2005, energy use in computer centers has doubled. In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency predicted a doubling of electricity consumed by data centers from 25 to 25.

In the 21st, A. At The New York Times’ request, Mr Kume assessed how much data center power costs actually increased between 20 and 20 years. He estimated a 56 percent increase worldwide, which was much lower than previously expected. The recession played a role in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 20, but it also gained in efficiency. With the data added to the new study, the calculation from 20 to 25 has been further reduced.

However, there have been major improvements in recent years. From the 21st, the authors of the study wrote in science, “The data center landscape has changed dramatically.”

The tectonic shift has moved to the cloud. Researchers estimated that ৯5 percent of data center computing was done in small traditional computer centers, largely owned and operated by non-tech companies. By 2018, 89% of data center computing is taking place in the larger, utility-style cloud data center.

Large cloud data centers use tailored chips, high-density storage, so-called virtual-machine software, ultrafast networking and customized airflow systems – all to increase computing firepower with minimal power.

“Big tech companies master every bit of every dollar they spend,” said Mr, who left Northwestern last month to join the faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara University.

Google is at the forefront. Its data centers produce seven times more computing power than they used to do with electricity only seven years ago, According to Urs Halzel, A senior vice president who oversees Google’s data center technology.

In 2018, data centers account for 1 percent of the world’s electricity output. It is the power of 17 million American households, a huge amount of energy use – but barely increasing.

The tendency for efficiency gains must be offset by three or four years, largely offset by rising demand, researchers think. But over the years, they say the outlook is uncertain.

In the Science article, they recommend measures by data center operators around the world, including energy-saving research and more investment in advanced measurement and data sharing.

The next few years, “they write,” will be an important transitional phase to ensure a low-carbon and energy-efficient future. “

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