Google uses fewer servers than we thought

Global data center power-usage study shows slowdown in growth

Google has never told the world exactly how many servers are running in its data centers, where the search giant stores digital information.

But that hasn't stopped people from ballparking Google's server count, which "recent guesstimates" have put at more than 1 million, according to Data Center Knowledge.

However, you know what happens when you guess: You make an "ess" out of G and U! Or, in the case of Google's servers, you overestimate the total number.

New information from a data-center energy usage study by a Stanford University "suggests that [Google] is probably running about 900,000 servers."

The professor, Jonathan Koomey, didn't just make up a number. He worked with data supplied by Google, Data Center Knowledge reported:

Google’s David Jacobowitz, a program manager on the Green Energy team, told Koomey that the electricity used by the company’s data centers was less than 1% of 198.8 billion kWh – the estimated total global data center energy usage for 2010. That means that Google may be running its entire global data center network in an energy footprint of roughly 220 megawatts of power.

These numbers allowed Koomey to arrive at specific numbers that-- oh, wait. From Koomey's report:

Table 4 makes some educated guesses about Google’s servers to estimate electricity used for that company’s data centers over time. While there is substantial uncertainty in these estimates (because of the lack of data on the installed base and other characteristics of Google’s servers), the calculations show that Google’s data center electricity use is about 0.01% of total worldwide electricity use and less than 1 percent of global data center electricity use in 2010.

"Educated guesses"? "Substantial uncertainty"? What happened to "didn't just make up a number"?

The closest Koomey comes is this: "In summary, the rapid rates of growth in data center electricity use that prevailed from 2000 to 2005 slowed significantly from 2005 to 2010, yielding total electricity use by data centers in 2010 of about 1.3% of all electricity use for the world, and 2% of all electricity use for the U.S."

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