New Algorithms Reduce the Carbon Cost of Cloud Computing

The computing cloud may feel intangible to users, but it has a definite physical form and a corresponding carbon footprint. Facebook’s data centers, for example, were responsible for the emission of 298 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, the equivalent of roughly 55 000 cars on the road. Computer scientists at Trinity College Dublin and IBM Research Dublin have shown that there are ways to reduce emissions from cloud computing, although their plan would likely cause some speed reductions and cost increases. By developing a group of algorithms, collectively called Stratus, the team was able to model a worldwide network of connected data centers and predict how best to use them to keep carbon emissions low while still getting the needed computing done and data delivered.

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