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This Month

Data Center Viability: From Chips to Cloud

The Data Center Boom is Unsustainable

Data Center Alley in Virginia

By George Leopold

What’s at stake?
The number of new data centers being built is outpacing incremental efforts at energy efficiency. As big-data applications scale workloads, cloud service providers and other hyperscalers can barely keep up with pandemic-driven demand for computing, storage and analytics. In the last quarter alone, the cloud sector is estimated to have grown by more than $50 billion. The data center business model of seemingly endless construction of server farms consuming ever-greater amounts of power is unsustainable.


Data Center Energy Puzzle

Server racks in data centers

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.