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Cool It: Is the Internet Too Hot for Data Centers to Handle?

By Scientific American

April 8, 2013

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The growth of cloud-based services is forcing data centers to provide greater speed and more storage capacity.

However, data centers generate a lot of heat that must be released by their cooling systems to keep them from overheating. Internet traffic volume doubles every three years, yet this increase in usage has not been matched by a similar increase in network energy efficiency, and the world's data centers will consume 19 percent more energy in 2013 than they did in 2012, according to University of Catania researcher Diego Reforgiato Recupero.

He says to avoid becoming energy hogs and adding more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, data centers need to find a smarter approach.

One approach is called smart standby, which places unused portions of computer server and networking equipment into very low power states. Another approach, called dynamic frequency scaling, allows computer central processing unit usage to be held back when there is light data traffic on a network. However, Recupero notes that both approaches require the servers to be started back up when network traffic increases.

One possible solution is to program greater intelligence into individual servers, network routers, and other data center equipment that enables them to monitor their individual heat output.

From Scientific American
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