Data Center Power Consumption Has Doubled in Five Years

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff February 20, 2007

In a keynote address at the LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit in New York on Feb. 15, Randy Allen, corporate vice president, server and workstation division, AMD, Sunnyvale, Calif., revealed findings from a study that comprehensively calculated, for the first time, the energy consumed by national and global data centers annually.

Addressing the need for thorough, credible estimates on data center power use, the study found that in 2005, in the United States alone, data centers and their associated infrastructures consumed five million kW of energy, the equivalent of five 1,000 MW power plants.

  • Instituting an annual report on energy efficiency in U.S. data centers to measure progress and determine new opportunities and challenges;

  • Developing a mechanism to enable businesses, large and small, to measure their own data center efficiency; and

  • Increasing alignment between government and vendor-neutral industry groups to foster the development of energy-efficient data centers for the future.

“The Environmental Protection Agency applauds AMD and this latest benchmarking effort to better understand the global impact data centers have on energy consumption,” said Andrew Fanara, team leader, U.S. Energy Star Product Specifications, EPA. “We are looking forward to continuing our work with the IT industry to forge new, energy-efficient solutions that benefit both consumers and our global environment.”

For more information about the study, click here .

Supported by a grant from AMD and authored by Jonathan Koomey, Ph.D., staff scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and consulting professor, Stanford University, the study calculates the total power used by servers both in the United States and around the world. The study builds on data from analyst firm IDC on the stocks and shipments of servers, as well as measured data and published estimates of the power per unit used by various server models.

The study found that in 2005, total data center electricity consumption in the United States, including servers, cooling and auxiliary equipment, was approximately 45 billion kWh, resulting in total utility bills worth $2.7 billion, with total data center power and electricity consumption for the world estimated to cost $7.2 billion annually. The report also examines the growth in electricity demands since the year 2000, concluding that over the last five years, server energy use has doubled.

“Though we have long known that data centers worldwide consume a significant amount of energy, AMD believes Dr. Koomey’s findings are a wake-up call not just for the IT industry, but also for global business, government and policy leaders,” AMD’s Allen explained. “This study demonstrates that unchecked demand for data center energy use can constrain growth and present real business challenges. New generations of energy-efficient servers are now able to help provide IT departments with a path to reduce their energy consumption while still achieving the performance they require.”

In his keynote address, Allen acknowledged that ongoing work between industry leaders and governmental agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is helping to identify meaningful steps to reduce IT industry energy consumption. Citing the study’s findings, Allen challenged these groups to accelerate their efforts and suggested several next steps to help bring accountability and measurement into tracking the industry’s efforts, including: