Google computing platform will optimize the use of renewable energy in data centers

Google computing platform will optimize the use of renewable energy in data centers

22. April 2020 0 By Horst Buchwald

Google computing platform will optimize the use of renewable energy in data centers

New York, 22.4.2020

As part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the environmental impact of cloud computing, Google announced that it has developed a platform that maximizes the use of alternative energy sources in its extensive network of data centers.

In a blog post, Google employees described the system as a “carbon-intelligent computing platform. It’s designed to quickly analyze and prioritize the large number of tasks that could potentially be performed, and shift the less urgent tasks to times when energy from sources such as wind or solar is more likely to be available.

The latest announcement comes at a time when technology giants are using renewable energy to reduce their environmental footprint while meeting the growing demand for online services. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have announced programs to achieve carbon neutrality in recent years.

There is no silver bullet, but there is evidence that collective attempts to make data centres more efficient are in fact slowing the rate of growth in energy consumption.

The authors of a recent article published in the journal Science found that data centres consumed 1% of total energy in 2018. While this represents a 6% increase since 2010, the authors calculated that total data centre computing power increased by 550% over the same period.

Nevertheless, with this pattern of use, increasing the share of renewable energy remains a key objective in the fight against climate change.

Google said it has designed its carbon platform to have no impact on Search and Maps. Instead, it identified categories of “non-urgent” tasks, such as “creating new filtering features on Google Photos, YouTube video processing or adding new words to Google Translate,” that could be shifted to other times.

The platform does this by examining patterns of energy consumption in the local power grid and comparing these to an internal diagnosis of the performance a data center requires during the course of the day. The result is an hourly benchmark that can realign the timing of various computing tasks.

Google reported that its pilot study of this technology showed a significant increase in the use of renewable energy. For the future, the company hopes to expand this system by moving tasks from one data centre to another where renewable energy sources could be more readily available.

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