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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

And Be Sure to Turn Off the Lights...

January 03, 2008

It's common knowledge that datacenters are hogs, at least when it comes to energy consumption. But it is only recently that we're finding out how big a hog they really are.

According to a recent AMD study conducted by Jonathan Koomey using IDC data, the electricity used by servers in the U.S. -- including servers, cooling, and auxiliary equipment -- was approximately 45 billion kWh, resulting in total utility bills amounting to $2.7 billion in 2005. The study estimates that the total worldwide datacenter power and electricity cost $7.2 billion annually.

But that's not the scary part. The study goes to project that, based on current trends, worldwide server consumption from 2005 to 2010 would require an additional capacity equal to more than 10 additional 1000 MW power plants. Now that's a lot of electricity.

The report reveals that electricity used by servers in the U.S. and Europe comprise about 2/3 of the world’s total, with Japan, Asia/Pacific, and the rest of the world each between 10 and 15 percent of the total. However, it appears that the rest of the world is catching up with the U.S. and Europe in server electricity consumption. Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) consumption is increasing at a 23 percent annual rate, compared to a world average of 16 percent a year. That doesn't mean that the U.S. and Europe are using less electricity, but that the rest of the world is using more.

Datacenters throughout the world are designed and operated in similar ways to those in the United States. Accordingly, if the 20 percent savings estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are applied to the AMD report, projections for global datacenter electricity use in 2010, total savings would equal approximately five 1000 MW power plants. In other words, says AMD, relatively modest changes in the way datacenters are designed and operated could offset approximately half the expected growth in global datacenter electricity use in 2010.

And I might add: Don't forget to turn off the lights when you leave the office at the end of the day.

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