In an attempt to clear up the debate on how much energy the Internet uses, the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) has released a report on data centers, also called server farms. The report concludes that data centers signif-icantly exaggerate their power requirements, in part due to optimistic growth projections and a need to make their operations look more substantial than competitors’. Power estimates also assume that computer equipment will use its rated power at all times, which is not true. Estimates also tend to be based on total floor space rather than computer-room floor space.

Data centers use, at most, 50 W/sq ft, says the report, including energy needed for cooling. Using an estimate of the total square footage of data centers in the United States, the report notes that the centers would require approximately 475 MW, and would use only 0.12% of the electricity produced in this country.

Publication date: 10/29/2001