The cloud is becoming green technology and may be the basis for ameliorating climate change

Green cloud

A study by five Northwestern University researchers, UC Santa Barbara and the United States Department of Energy, has revealed that in a calculation made in modern data centers increased their energy consumption by only 6% between 2010 2018 y.

With this they reveal to us that these data centers consumed 205 terawatt hours Of electricity, this represents 1% of world consumption of electrical power, the same proportion as in 2010. All this comes down to a data center efficiency gain, thanks to improved energy performance and the migration to cloud computing.

Although this study contradicts certain prejudices and beliefs that data centers leave a carbon footprint equivalent to that of the airline industry.

Since many experts mentioned years ago that data center power consumption should double every four years, which would lead to tripling the global share of electrical energy consumption of these centers in just one decade, but it seems that with the new data of the study published this year they are well below these figures.

According to one of the researchers who conducted the study in this year 2020, Jonathan Koomey, the simple extrapolation of data that leads to the use of projections of future growth in the energy consumption of the data center has a bias, this approach does not take into account energy efficiency gains.

It should not be denied that these devices, although they consume more energy than almost a decade ago, now make many more calculations for each watt-hour used, in addition to taking into account that with the great exponential advance in processors, each time work so that your energy consumption is lower.

In fact, modern data center infrastructure systems, particularly in terms of cooling and energy, they are much more efficient than before. 

That said, the reduction in energy consumed as a result is enough to offset the increase in the total power consumption of these computing devices.

This most particularly concerns cloud data centers that currently host 89% of compute instances, while in 2010, 79% of compute instances in the world were in traditional data centers.

Currently, there is a large migration to new facilities carried out by cloud service providers, such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure. Now it turns out that commercially operated cloud data centers are much more optimized for energy efficiency compared to data centers operated individually by companies.

The publication of this new study from this year 2020 in the journal Science comes precisely at the moment when the European Union (EU) plans to impose energy efficiency standards on operators that manage data centers in Europe. Therefore, these providers want the EU to encourage companies to abandon their old infrastructure to migrate to commercial facilities.

Urs Hölzle, vice president of technical infrastructure at Google, says:

For example, Google's data centers are twice as energy efficient as these traditional business facilities. Additionally, Hölzle notes that Google currently provides seven times more computing power on the same amount of electrical power that its data centers consumed five years ago.

This trend towards greater efficiency Energy efficiency seems to be widespread for large companies Internet, including, for example, Facebook and Apple. A) Yes, had the idea to place their data centers in regions with cold climates to substantially reduce the energy consumption required to cool the facilities.

This also facilitates the use of renewable energy for the remaining needs of these data centers. In any case, the migration of data processing to cloud services is one of the main recommendations of this 2020 study.


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