Data Center Power Consumption

Here is a useful graph of how designed data center power consumption in watts/ft2 has soared in recent years. Remarkable stuff, especially when you consider power consumption’s sometimes-surprising inverse relationship with Moore’s Law. Increased component density, in other words, is leading to higher concentrations of gear, which drives more power consumption on a per-ft2 basis.


  1. mind sharing yoru source for that data? thanks.

  2. One of the few places in hardware technology that hasn’t ridden up this curve is networking. For instance, higher density 1 GbE and 10 GbE switch/router boxes can move more bits without necessarily drawing more power.
    Gratuitous Force10 company plug: we’ve got a white paper looking at gigabits / watt from a networking standpoint posted on

  3. Sure, source is a 9/06 presentation by an Equinix exec to the Utility Economic Development Association, see

  4. Fiske Silk says:

    Having been fighting the power battle with numerous data centers for the last couple of years, I’m glad to see that there is evidence that new data centers are being designed for more power. I’m afraid, though, that the curve is not steep enough to really alleviate the problem.
    Try asking your data center for enough power to light up a 42U rack with 1U servers. Our current spec compute server is 8 cores in 1U. If they won’t sell you that much power per rack, you’ve got to pay to rent additional space you don’t need. If they do agree to give you all the power you need, they probably don’t understand the specification to which their data center was engineered.
    Further, the resale of power is a fairly low margin business for these guys. This is a further problem for anyone who needs a lot of power density. As the power crunch grows, the margin on power may go up along with prices.

  5. K. de Jong says:

    working in a datacenter of 2 km^2 you don’t count the W/m^2.
    You measure this per rack basis.
    for standalone equipment you want a normal cool temperature.
    19 degrees environment works well for both human and machine.
    The racks have their raised floor, row or rack cooling.

  6. It’s the irony of efficiency:
    when we get more efficient with something, we use more of it, not less.
    in this case, as bips/watt increase lever up your wattage!