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Stanford Expert Says Internet's Backbone Can Readily Be Made More Sustainable

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Google's 115,000-sq.-ft. data center in Council Bluffs, IA.

While Google follows best practices for energy efficiency, many companies and institutions could easily make their data centers more sustainable, a new study says.

Credit: Google

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that it wants to establish minimum energy efficiency standards for all computers and servers sold in the United States, after a new Stanford University study found that large server farms can cut electricity use and greenhouse gas emissions by 88 percent with off-the-shelf equipment and proven energy management practices.

The carbon emissions generated by large data centers are related to the computing efficiency of IT equipment, the amount of electricity the data center's building uses for things other than computing, and how much of the center's electricity comes from renewable or low-carbon sources. "Of these three, improving the efficiency of the IT devices is overwhelmingly the most important," says Stanford professor Jonathan Koomey.

He says data centers can avoid wasting electricity by using faster computers that pay for themselves fairly quickly, and by using flash memory on the motherboard instead of hard disks. "Once you fix the institutional problems, then the company can move quickly, because the needed equipment is off-the-shelf and the energy management practices are well understood," Koomey notes.

Of the potential 88-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, IT device efficiency accounts for about 80 percent, and facility energy management for about 8 percent.

From Stanford Report (CA)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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