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Truth & Consequences

Data Center Energy Puzzle

Data centers consume enormous amounts of power, much of which goes into activities other than actual computing. But clawing back energy from data centers with technology advances is a profound challenge.
Server racks in data centers
Server racks in data centers

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By Ron Wilson

What’s at stake?
As use of the Web grows more intense — think of the difference between searching for a nice cat video vs. entering an immersive virtual-reality experience — and the demand spreads through the developing world, a rapid proliferation of huge cloud data centers is likely. But the energy consumption and environmental impacts of data centers could bring big and unwelcome changes to infrastructure, climate and quality of life as data centers spread into countries already challenged by power generation, water shortages and a warming climate.

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