Energy requirements for data centers have leveled off. Traditional inefficiencies have been attacked and fewer larger servers are being more efficiently utilized. A report from a highly respected team
United States Data Center Energy Usage Report
Arman Shehabi, Sarah Smith, Dale Sartor, Richard Brown, Magnus Herrlin
Environmental and Energy Impact Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University
McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University
Nathaniel Horner, Inês Azevedo
Climate and Energy Decision Making Center, Carnegie Mellon University
Federal Energy Management Program, U.S. Department of Energy
The tl;dr from the report:
This report estimates historical data center electricity consumption back to 2000, relying on previous studies and historical shipment data, and forecasts consumption out to 2020 based on new trends and the most recent data available. Figure ES-1 provides an estimate of total U.S. data center electricity use (servers, storage, network equipment, and infrastructure) from 2000-2020. In 2014, data centers in the U.S. consumed an estimated 70 billion kWh, representing about 1.8% of total U.S. electricity consumption. Current study results show data center electricity consumption increased by about 4% from 2010-2014, a large shift from the 24% percent increase estimated from 2005-2010 and the nearly 90% increase estimated from 2000-2005. Energy use is expected to continue slightly increasing in the near future, increasing 4% from 2014-2020, the same rate as the past five years. Based on current trend estimates, U.S. data centers are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020.
Many factors contribute to the overall energy trends found in this report, though the most conspicuous change may be the reduced growth in the number of servers operating in data centers. While shipments of new servers into data centers continue to grow every year, the growth rate has diminished over the past 15 years. From 2000-2005, server shipments increased by 15% each year resulting in a near doubling of servers operating in data centers. From 2005-2010, the annual shipment increase fell to 5%, partially driven by a conspicuous drop in 2009 shipments (most likely from the economic recession), as well as from the emergence of server virtualization across that 5-year period. The annual growth in server shipments further dropped after 2010 to 3% and that growth rate is now expected to continue through 2020. This 3% annual growth rate coincides with the rise in very large “hyperscale” data centers and an increased popularity of moving previously localized data center activity to colocation or cloud facilities. In fact, nearly all server shipment growth since 2010 occurred in servers destined for large hyperscale data centers, where servers are often configured for maximum productivity and operated at high utilization rates, resulting in fewer servers needed in the hyperscale data centers than would be required to provide the same services in traditional, smaller, data centers.
The global warming goal of 1.5° to 2.0°C over the pre-industrial era is laudable and perhaps the damage could be handled. Unfortunately, given the current level of commitment , getting there is fantasy.
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