2 Green computing
Green computing is the environmentally responsible and eco-friendly use of computers and their resources. It is concerned with all aspects of computing: the design, manufacturing and disposing of hardware; software and hardware that is designed to be run efficiently to cut down on processing power; and working practices. Though there is a growing focus on the energy needed to power the ever-increasing number of computers.
Some understanding of computing’s energy consumption can be found in the 2017 reportwhich was produced by Greenpeace. Here is their take on the comparative demands of different areas of the IT sector in 2012 and in 2017.
Figure 1 shows that within the IT sector, the fraction of energy consumed by individual devices is less in 2017 than 2012, as is the fraction of energy used to manufacture IT hardware. However, the percentage of energy consumed by data centres and networks is greater in 2017 than 2012. We can’t be sure that this is as a result of the move to making more us of online services hosted in data centres, but it seems reasonable to assume that this is an important factor. The report also points out that the IT sector accounted for 7% of global electricity demand in 2012, but could be as high as 12% in 2017.
Find the current figures for the power consumption of computers and computer systems. Compare them with these historic figures.
Have the trends between 2012 and 2017 continued? Has the proportion of energy spent on manufacture continued to decline, while the proportion of energy consume by data centres continued to increase?
It is assumed that even if individual computers are more efficient, because there are more computers, the overall demand for energy has increased. Is this right?
Have the trends in changing energy consumption between sectors continued? Would you say that they are changing at the same rate, or faster, or slower?
In the following section, you will look more closely at one aspect of green computing.