Data centres, by their own inherent design, consume vast amounts of energy. A couple of years ago the New York Times published an article called Power, Pollution and the Internet and it began highlighting the huge problem that faced the data centres at Facebook. In a nutshell, their servers were essentially melting from the excessive amount of power consumed that was overheating the Ethernet sockets and other critical components. They urgently needed to address the problem of cooling and heat dissipation. The article went on to claim that data centres can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they draw.
The study that was referenced in this particular report was based on sampling close to 20,000 servers in 70 large data centres. The industries involved covered drug companies, banks, media companies, military contractors and government agencies.
As of 2012, data centres worldwide were estimated to consume close to 30 billion watts of electricity. This translates to almost the equivalent output of 30 nuclear power plants. The United States alone accounted for up to one-third of that load.
The following quote taken from the NYT article came from a data centre designer named Peter Gross who said: “A single data centre can take more power than a medium-size town.”
On doing a bit more research to find out how much energy data centres actually consume, we came across this highly informative infographic by greenhousedata.com. It graphically illustrates this information along with ways in which we can make data centres more energy efficient. We hope that you too find it useful.
Our next post in this series will look at the impact on our global economy when data centres experience down time.