Data Centers Waste Vast Amounts of Energy, Belying Industry Image – NYTimes.com

A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.

Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.

To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government’s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area’s top stationary diesel polluters.

Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, according to estimates industry experts compiled for The Times. Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third of that load, the estimates show.

“It’s staggering for most people, even people in the industry, to understand the numbers, the sheer size of these systems,” said Peter Gross, who helped design hundreds of data centers. “A single data center can take more power than a medium-size town.”

via Data Centers Waste Vast Amounts of Energy, Belying Industry Image – NYTimes.com.

Advertisements

One thought on “Data Centers Waste Vast Amounts of Energy, Belying Industry Image – NYTimes.com

  1. Typically when I think about ethics I consider social issues. But, after taking this class it has become quite clear that ethics crosses just social barriers. Many environmental issues can raise ethical questions. My main qualm with these numbers is how they match up to other industries. Today in class someone was doing their project on the ethics of these datacenters and made it very clear that they are organizations too and should be regulated as such. The auto industry has definitely had some restrictions placed on it in more recent years to make fuel efficient cars to make resources last longer. I always laugh when people say “greener” it’s more like “makes our environment chug along a little longer.” Everything aside, my main question still lies, “How do these datacenters match up to power consumption for other organizations that use electricity or some sort of power?” The numbers are staggering but I can’t easily justify the wasted energy of 90%. I can provide a solution for these issues, at least partially for power consumption. SSDs are getting cheaper and more power efficient, some researchers have discovered how to make them last much longer. Long enough to justify using them in data centers. These drives use a fraction of the power and could be completely powered off when not in use. I feel that could potential reduce power consumption and make it more environmental friendly and reducing the ethical concern.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s