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Google Plugs In

By - September 26, 2006


Google is pushing for more efficient power cords for PCs. Totally random, seemingly, but a fine idea.

From the Times:

The Google white paper argues that the opportunity for power savings is immense — by deploying the new power supplies in 100 million desktop PC’s running eight hours a day, it will be possible to save 40 billion kilowatt-hours over three years, or more than $5 billion at California’s energy rates.

Is there a Mac version? I HATE HATE HATE the way the Mac handles power.

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5 thoughts on “Google Plugs In

  1. Eric says:

    Didn’t Brin (or maybe it was Page) mention this at the last CES too?

    For a company that doesn’t sell (much) hardware, they seem to be giving a lot of thought to the issue of power cords.

    Which begs the question of whether they’re simply environmentally conscious, or if there’s another reason they’re pushing this?

  2. Greg Linden says:

    I think it is very much in their self-interest. Google’s power costs apparently are close to exceeding the cost of their hardware.


    for more details and a link to an ACM article on the topic.

  3. Glenn Fleishman says:

    Not power cords, but power supplies. Because a power supply produces 5V, 12V, and a host of other voltages, there’s an enormous amount of inefficiency in making all these conversions. And there is apparently little reason for it. Step-down transformers turn AC into DC with heat as a byproduct, and the more different transformation, the more heat and less power; there’s also a choice in cost of components, often measured in pennies, that has a huge impact on how efficient a power supply is. I think Google is arguing that reducing the number of voltages–letting the motherboard handle the lowest voltages through more efficient means–could reduce the cost of the power supply and the power that feeds it.

    They did talk previously about power cords–something about how they have their own cords made for them because there’s so much energy lost in a conventional cord. And remember that energy lost isn’t just a loss of electricity they’re paying for, but as an increase in heat, means an increase in a/c cost, too. So they pay at both ends.

    Greg’s definitely right on the power:hardware problem for Google and every hosting firm of any scale. I mean, if you own even one computer running 24 hours a day, the cost savings of a more efficient power supply and cord would probably be repaid in months.

    And think of it like load on a plane. Connexion by Boeing’s service failed, in part, because they loaded 800 pounds of equipment to make their service works. Competitors are looking at no more than 100 pounds. Every pound on an airplane equals some number of pounds of jet fuel to move it around, based on distance. I was told that 800 pounds of equipment would require 1200 pounds of fuel for the longest haul flights — thousands of dollars each time you move that inert gear around.

    The same is true with fixed servers. If you spend an extra $100 to drop power usage by 1 kWh per day (less than 50 fewer watts used per hour) and you’re paying 10 cents for that kWh it takes 1,000 hours, or a few months of 24×7 usage, to recoup that difference. That doesn’t include a/c savings, either, which could be comparable. Over a 2 to 4 year life span, you’re suddenly saving more than the cost of the server.

  4. dumbfounder says:

    Eric, they have several hundred thousand servers. It would mean they have to spend less on their power bills.