A Facebook server farm (image via Time)
Aluminum is the most-used building material. It is in almost every product made today. Smelting aluminum, extracting the metal from the oxide alumina, uses 2% of the world's energy, and it has been that way for a long time.
A new contended looks to surpass the metal as a major energy drain on the world, the Internet.
Two researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the International Computer Science Institute, Justin Ma and Barath Raghaven, came to that conclusion after conducting a short survey. The team made some gross estimates that are not accurate, but are most likely very close.
They combined the power used by servers, routers, networking devices, internet-enabled products, and all computers for the figure. They made the guess that there are 750 million laptops/computers, 100 million servers, a billion smartphones, and all the power used to manufacture it all, totaling a power usage of 170-307 gigawatts. With global power consumption also estimated at 16 terawatts, it comes to approximately 2%.
In the future "Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks" at Cambridge, Massachusetts, the team will discuss the figures and suggest some energy efficiencies worth investigating.
There are a lot of numbers just thrown around in this study. In fact, every single figure is an estimate, including the total global drain. If true numbers were to be sought out, I am sure it would be higher than their numbers. I once worked for a company where over the Christmas break, most people left their computers on. That was over a week of the computers on for no reason.
My recommendation, if you are not using it turn it off and disconnect it from the wall socket. For example, the older XBOX 360 consoles would use 6W of continuous power even when they were off. Personally, I would unplug mine after every use. Many people just take the power for granted.