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Data Centres - What You Need to Know?

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Apr 21, 2020 5:02 AM 2 min read

If data is the new oil, then data centres are where all this oil is stored. Data centres are where all the information on the internet and telecommunications is stored – and they look like something out of a science fiction novel.


These buildings or chambers are huge. Really huge. Some of them are bigger than aircraft carriers, consisting of countless circuit boards racked row upon row through windowless corridors so vast that staff ride scooters to get from one end to the other.


All the Energy in the World

Some of these giant warehouses of data consume as much energy as a small town. A data centre requires huge amounts of power supply systems, cooling systems, network connections and security systems to be functional. And as internet usage rises exponentially, the size and energy demand of data centres has risen accordingly.


Already, data centres use an estimated 200 terawatt hours (TWh) each year. That is more than the national energy consumption of some countries. And some analysts predict that in the next few years the information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem will use 20% of all electricity used, with data centres feeding on a third of that amount! (FYI: ICT’s carbon footprint is already on par with the aviation industry’s.)


Remedy This

But scientists and engineers are at work around the world to find a way to keep ICT and data centres’ environmental impact in check. They are streamlining computing processes, switching to renewables and investigating better ways to cool data centres and to recycle their waste heat.


Under the Sea

Work is also being done to increase the storage capacity and efficiency of present systems – which is why data centre electricity demand has plateaued over the last few years.


And some companies, like Microsoft, are innovating one step further – by moving data centres under water! Two years ago, the tech giant submerged a 40-foot-long data storing vessel off the northern coast of Scotland. This submarine data centre uses tidal energy to power itself and the ocean to cool itself – and it can hold data and process information for almost five years without maintenance.


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