« The all-seeing net | Main | Working for free »

Server electricity use skyrockets

February 15, 2007

A new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, released today, reveals that the electricity used by server computers doubled between 2000 and 2005. The report, which appears to be the most definitive assessment of data center energy consumption yet produced, underscores the growing importance of energy efficiency in effective IT management. The report's author, Jonathan Koomey, told Technology Review, "I was surprised by the doubling. I expected some growth, but not quite as large."

The increase in power consumption is largely attributable to the proliferation of cheap servers, according to the study:

Almost all of this growth was the result of growth in the number of the least expensive servers, with only a small part of that growth being attributable to growth in the power use per unit. Total power used by servers represented about 0.6% of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2005. When cooling and auxiliary infrastructure are included, that number grows to 1.2%, an amount comparable to that for color televisions. The total power demand in 2005 (including associated infrastructure) is equivalent (in capacity terms) to about five 1000 MW power plants for the U.S. and 14 such plants for the world. The total electricity bill for operating those servers and associated infrastructure in 2005 was about $2.7 B and $7.2 B for the U.S. and the world, respectively.

The estimate that servers account for 1.2 percent of overall power consumption in the U.S. is, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, considerably lower than some previous estimates, which put data center power consumption as high as 13 percent of total U.S. consumption. It should be noted that the study, underwritten by AMD, looks only at power consumption attributable to servers, which represents about 60% to 80% of total data center power consumption. Electricity consumed by storage and networking gear is excluded. The study also excludes custom-built servers, such as the ones used by Google. The number of servers Google runs is unknown but is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Related posts:
Avatars consume as much electricity as Brazilians
Welcome back to frugal computing


Nick, this is more reason for us to move to your vision of Utility Computing,,,but as I write below, the hardware vendors and the outsourcing vendors will likely continue to try to sell "the new improved, fuel efficient generator" rather than utility...which would smooth out peaks and valley of fuel consumption across many customers, allow for specialized energy optimization etc. Not to mention, be far more efficient in "people fuel" which frankly, is still a much bigger cost in data centers than the power variety


Posted by: vinnie mirchandani [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 16, 2007 10:24 AM

Nick, a shorter version of above link is below


Posted by: vinnie mirchandani [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 16, 2007 10:27 AM

Not to worry. Google is on the case again! http://services.google.com/blog_resources/PSU_white_paper.pdf


Posted by: Joel P [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 17, 2007 02:45 PM

Hi Nick,

Whilst this article talks about servers, I thought I'd let you know about an idea I've put in action to hopefully get people to use desktop computers more efficently. KyotoPotato is a game which gets users to turn off their computers to win (obviously when they are not using them). Take a look at http://kyotopotato.com.



Posted by: Gary [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 18, 2007 03:57 AM

"Electricity consumed by storage and networking gear is excluded"..how about air conditioning?

Posted by: photoncourier.blogspot.com [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2007 06:12 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

carrshot5.jpg Subscribe to Rough Type

Now in paperback:
shallowspbk2.jpg Pulitzer Prize Finalist

"Riveting" -San Francisco Chronicle

"Rewarding" -Financial Times

"Revelatory" -Booklist

Order from Amazon

Visit The Shallows site

The Cloud, demystified: bigswitchcover2thumb.jpg "Future Shock for the web-apps era" -Fast Company

"Ominously prescient" -Kirkus Reviews

"Riveting stuff" -New York Post

Order from Amazon

Visit Big Switch site

Greatest hits

The amorality of Web 2.0

Twitter dot dash

The engine of serendipity

The editor and the crowd

Avatars consume as much electricity as Brazilians

The great unread

The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock's avatar

Flight of the wingless coffin fly

Sharecropping the long tail

The social graft

Steve's devices

MySpace's vacancy

The dingo stole my avatar

Excuse me while I blog

Other writing

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

The ignorance of crowds

The recorded life

The end of corporate computing

IT doesn't matter

The parasitic blogger

The sixth force



The limits of computers: Order from Amazon

Visit book site

Rough Type is:

Written and published by
Nicholas Carr

Designed by

JavaScript must be enabled to display this email address.