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Google Uses DeepMind AI To Slash Data Centre Energy Use

Ben covers web and technology giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft and their impact on the cloud computing industry, whilst also writing about data centre players and their increasing importance in Europe. He also covers future technologies such as drones, aerospace, science, and the effect of technology on the environment.

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Artificial intelligence platforms predicts power needed for cooling, resulting in 40 percent energy saving

Google claims it is able to reduce the amount of power it needs to cool its data centres by up to 40 percent by using its DeepMind artificial intelligence platform.

Google acquired British firm DeepMind in 2014, and announced this week that by using an AI platform, the overall PUE of each of its data centres could be reduced by up to 15 percent.

This is because the AI uses a system of neural networks to predict data centre behaviour, and boosting efficiency by not wasting energy on redundant processes.

Sensors

These neural networks then collect historical data from the thousands of sensors within the data centre, data such as temperatures, power, pump speeds, setpoints, etc. The networks are then trained to predict future temperature and pressure of the data centre for the next hour.

A typical day of testing, including when Google turned the machine learning recommendations on, and when it turned them off.
A typical day of testing, including when Google turned the machine learning recommendations on, and when it turned them off.

Google research engineer Rich Evans called the breakthrough a “phenomenal step forward”.

“The implications are significant for Google’s data centres, given its potential to greatly improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions overall,” he said.

“This will also help other companies who run on Google’s cloud to improve their own energy efficiency.

“Every improvement in data centre efficiency reduces total emissions into our environment and with technology like DeepMind’s, we can use machine learning to consume less energy and help address one of the biggest challenges of all — climate change.”

Renewables

Google is currently attempting to reach a 100 percent renewable energy target for its global cloud operations. In June, Google bought the entire output of two new wind farms under construction in Sweden and Norway.

The deals mean Google now has seven agreements in Europe, including four in Sweden, amounting to 500MW that can be used to deliver its services to European customers more cleanly. Globally, Google has 18 such deals totalling 2.5 Gigawatts.

A 2015 report from Greenpeace shone light on the global power consumption of data centres, criticising larger providers such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft for not trying hard enough to use renewable energy.

Recent studies from Greenpeace estimate that the collective electricity consumption of our devices, data centres, and networks will jump from 7.4 percent of global electricity consumption in 2012 to between 7 percent and 12 percent by 2017.

Google said it is planning to roll out its system more broadly and will share information about the platform so that other data centre and industrial system operators “can benefit from this major step forward”.

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