The full scale of the energy crisis facing the world's datacentres was revealed for the first time this week after new research found that powering and cooling servers is costing businesses $7.2bn a year.
The study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) combined estimates on the size of the server market from IT analysts IDC with figures on datacentre energy efficiency to quantify the global power demands of datacentres. It concluded that the shift towards low end servers had caused global power consumption to double between 2000 and 2005 to 123 million kw/hours.
It also estimated that US datacentres alone now account for 1.2 percent of total US power consumption or more than the whole state of Mississippi. That equated to an electricity bill for US datacentres of $2.7bn in 2005.
The report, which was authored by Jonathan Koomey, a scientist at LBNL and consulting professor at Stanford University, also warned that based on IDC server shipment forecasts the situation could get far worse with power demands expected to increase by 40 percent on 2005 levels by 2010, assuming per-server power consumption stays at 2005 rates.
Speaking at the LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit in New York this week, Randy Allen, corporate vice president for the server and workstation division at chip manufacturer AMD, which funded the research, said that it should serve as a "wake-up call" to businesses. "This study demonstrates that unchecked demand for data center energy use can constrain growth and present real business challenges," he said.
Allen pointed to the next generation of more energy efficient servers as a means of tackling the problem. He also argued that while political and business leaders had taken some steps to reduce the energy consumption of their datacentres far more needed to be done.
He recommended that an annual report on national datacentre energy consumption and a standard means for firms to measure their own datacentre's energy efficiency would help monitor progress in tackling the problem and identify areas for improvement.
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