Data Center Hyperscaling

How environmental controls will impact the cloud.


As we move in to 2020 it’s clear that every sector of industry, including the semiconductor industry, will have a responsibility to address growing environmental concerns. We should be aware that as our sector underpins the growth in AI, 5G telecommunications, crypto-currency and high performance compute applications, it is predicted that by 2030 energy consumption attributable to data centers will make up a staggering 8% of the world’s total usage. Data centers are fast becoming one of the big consumers alongside lighting, domestic heating/cooling and transportation.

What will happen next?
My prediction for 2020 is that we will see greater governmental involvement in how carbon emission targets are levied upon different industrial sectors, technology applications, and in particular, data centers. As the so called ‘evolved economies’ around the world gradually respond to the pending climate crisis I believe we could see a growth in data centers being located in ‘less evolved’ economic regions where emission levels are scrutinized less and incentives for reduced energy consumption are less apparent.

Today, we know that there is a vicious cycle to data center energy consumption. Approximately 40% being consumed through high performance compute activity, which in turn generates heat at the chip, board and system levels. However, a further 40% of energy is being consumed through subsequent cooling and thermal management. As society demands more computational capacity, so a two-fold energy demand is generated.

Taking responsibility…
For the semiconductor industry and associated technologies to grow responsibly we need seek innovative ways to reduce our energy consumption, hence optimize from the physical chip level up to overall data center deployment.

By understanding and accurately measuring thermal, supply and process conditions deep within our semiconductor devices we are able to control and therefore reduce overall data center consumption. By also harnessing mission mode in-chip analytics for optimization, we can invoke further reduction to our carbon ‘cloud’ emissions. So in 2020, I believe that narratives from environmentalists like Greta Thunberg and subsequently the action taken by governments around the world, will see the semiconductor industry respond by helping to tackle our new existential challenge.

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