AMD studies data centre energy spikes

AMD is suggesting that even small shifts in operational procedures could cut electricity consumption in the data centre.

A study conducted by Dr. Jonathan Koomey and using data from industry analyst firm IDC, documents energy use across five regions: the United States, Western Europe, Japan, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) and the rest of the world.

It forecasts data centre energy consumption, estimating that by 2010 U.S. consumption will decline relative to consumption worldwide from 40 per cent in 2000 to about one-third by 2010. The Asia/Pacific region (excluding Japan) will increase its share from 10 per cent to about 16 per cent over that period.

AMD estimated that the absolute electricity consumption for servers in the Asia/Pacific region under this scenario will more than double from 2005 to 2010, requiring electricity capacity equal to output from two new 1,000MW power plants – which is unsurprising given the rate at which those economies are growing. For the entire world, server consumption from 2005 to 2010 would require additional capacity equal to more than 10 additional 1,000MW power plants.

Koomey’s report shows that electricity used by servers in the United States and Europe currently comprise about two-thirds of the world’s total, with Japan, Asia/Pacific and the rest of the world each falling at between 10 and 15 per cent of the total.

Examining electricity use by region from 2000 to 2005, the study found that server electricity use in the Asia/Pacific region (excluding Japan) grew at a 23 percent annual rate, compared to a world average of 16 per cent a year, making this region the only one with server electricity use growing at a rate significantly greater than the world average.

The Western European growth rate of 17 per cent was slightly above the world average, while growth rates in the other regions were lower than the world average.

Data centres throughout the world are designed and operated in similar ways to those in the United States, AMD said. The chip company reckoned that, if the 20 percent savings estimated in the EPA report are applied to Dr. Koomey’s projections for global data centre electricity use in 2010, total savings would equal approximately five 1,000MW power plants. In other words, relatively modest changes in the way data centres are designed and operated could offset approximately half the expected growth in global data centre electricity use in 2010.

Koomey said in the study: “I converted total direct electricity use to total electricity consumption (including cooling and auxiliary equipment) by multiplying by a factor of 2.0. This factor is the ratio of typical total data centre load to the information technology equipment plug load, and it includes both cooling electricity use and losses in the power delivery infrastructure. Future work should investigate how this multiplier might vary across data centre types and geographic/climatic regions.”

This new research adds detail to an AMD-sponsored study published in February that identified the worldwide costs associated with data centre energy use, finding that in 2005 total data centre electricity consumption in the United States (including servers, cooling and auxiliary equipment) was approximately 45 billion kWh, resulting in total utility bills amounting to US$2.7 billion. That study estimated total data centre power and electricity consumption for the world to cost $7.2 billion annually.

According to AMD, both of Koomey’s studies were subject to peer review by IT industry, government and energy efficiency policy professionals.