There is a lot of data out there, and more is being created every day. It takes a lot of resources to make sure that we can access the data we want, when we want, with minimal downtime. Naturally, this takes a lot of energy, but the New York Times looked into exactly how much. It's a ridiculous amount.
Most data centres, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centres can waste 90 per cent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.
Wasting 90 per cent of anything is already incredibly inefficient, but it only gets worse when you consider how much electricity these data centres are actually pulling off the grid. In many cases, it's more than a medium-sized town. That's per data centre, and we have quite a few of those.
There are ways to make it better, but there are also obstacles to implementing them. For one, data centres are notoriously secretive; not only are their locations often secret, but their hardware can be proprietary and hush-hush too. On top of that, when uptime is priority number one, taking risks on anything new is counterintuitive. Sure, maybe this new thing could increase energy efficiency, but it could also break something.
As the world generates more and more data, and that data continues to migrate to the cloud, data centre efficiency is going to become a bigger and bigger issue. You can read more about the harrowing details over at the the New York Times.