Most Green ICT efforts focus on hardware. That make sense, because hardware lifecycles encompass everything from environmentally responsible sourcing of its raw materials through energy efficiency of its use to sustainable disposal at its end-of-life. Special utility software such as desktop power-saving plays a central role in Green ICT, but less attention has been given to the application and system software in the gear, itself.
Liquid cooling was once a staple of large-scale computing, but has largely been replaced by air cooling. We identified several efforts to bring liquid cooling to the server world in our first version of this post in 2012 and have seen continuous progress since. Here is the latest news.
There is a rich global mix of advanced concepts and technologies emerging from research labs that may improve the future sustainability of ICT equipment and infrastructures. We regularly update this post with technologies of interest. (You can see all the technologies which hold the promise of greener ICT in the future by clicking the 'FutureTech' tag, above.) Our latest posts span research into biological agents that can recover gold from e-waste to multiferroic materials to reduce device waste heat.
Supercomputer manufacturers have always vied to build the most powerful machine. Recently, they have sought to increase energy efficiency, as well. Yet innovation appears to be slowing. The most recent ranking still shows the top performer to be China's Tianhe-2, a position it obtained in June 2013. (Tianhe translates as "Milky Way" in English.) An american supercomputer installed in Switzerland is the most energy-effieicnt of the Top 10 machines.
We've counted over 17 billion pieces of e-gear attached to the global ICT infrastructure. The 'Internet of Things' (IoT) will dramatically increase this number by the end of the decade. Can technology keep up with the energy and resource demands?
Billions of people live in areas still without telecommunications access. Innovative delivery ideas emerged in 2013, including balloons. 2014 updates include a Facebook video explaining its solutions using satellites, drones, and lasers, Google's plans to add satellites to its mix of balloons and drones, and an announcement of a surprising new player.
The convergence of multiple lines of Green ICT inquiry is a sign of Green ICT progress. We have covered the growing use of fuel cells to power ICT facilities and the advancement of DC distribution inside the data center. A recent demonstration brings these two concepts together to improve energy efficiency and reliability.
TV Whites Spaces (TVWS) are portions of the broadcast spectrum that, depending on your perspective, either are valuable unused frequencies or are usefully buffering against adjacent channel interference. The potential for TVWS to deliver wireless services is a major controversy in the United States between the wireless community and the broadcast community. Microsoft and Google are both using Africa to demonstrate the viability of delivering connectivity via TVWS with projects launched in early 2013. Microsoft launched another white spaces project in late 2013.
What is a battery? A device to store energy and convert it to electricity on demand? This is an important question as ICT facilities and infrastructure elements increasingly rely on sophisticated battery-based systems such as UPS. Potentially greener alternatives are emerging to chemical batteries, with flywheels appearing to have the most momentum for ITC facilities going into 2013.
Let's start by reviewing the role energy storage devices play in ICT. A 2011 APC white paper lists three applications:
Microsoft has announced plans to spend $5.5 million to build a zero-carbon data center pilot project in Wyoming. A source of very low carbon electricity is key to such projects. Microsoft's power generation fuel? Municipal sewage!