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Data centres more energy efficient than ever

(Image credit: Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

Despite the demand for cloud computing and data centres skyrocketing in the past decade, the amount of electricity these facilities use remains almost flat, claims a report published in Science.

According to the study, the computing performed in data centres rose by 550 percent between 2010 and 2018. In the same period, the amount of energy consumed by data centres grew by a mere six percent.

The report suggest these efficiency gains outpaced anything seen in other major sectors of the economy.

According to Urs Hölzle, Google's SVP Technical Infrastructure, it's all about efficiency and reducing waste.

To that end, Google designed “highly efficient Tensor Processing Units, (the AI chips behind our advances in machine learning), and outfitted all of our data centres with high-performance servers,” he said in a blog post.

Google also implemented artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to handle factors such as cooling, lighting and temperature. Overall, it estimates AI tools reduced energy usage by roughly 30 percent.

The annual power usage effectiveness for its global fleet of data centres in 2019 hit a new record low of 1.10, compared with the industry average of 1.67.

“Compared with five years ago, we now deliver around seven times as much computing power with the same amount of electrical power,” said Hölzle.