Google’s servers refresh 20 billion pages a day, process over 100 billion search queries a month, provide email for 425 million Gmail users and process 72 hours of video uploaded per minute to YouTube. And yet we’re able to do all that work with relatively little energy, compared to other industries.
Data centers are responsible for between 1.1 and 1.5 percent of global energy use (compare that to transportation at 25 percent), and Google’s data centers are less than a percent of that. It’s a testament to the almost unimaginable improvements in computing power per watt that Moore’s Law has brought us over the past decades. Searching virtually all the world’s online information for a billion users with just 0.01 percent of global energy use illustrates how much less energy it takes to move electrons (information) than atoms (physical things).