Thursday, 2 December 2010

Google’s Instant Search power savings has carried out an interesting analysis of the power savings made as the result of the recent launch of Google’s Instant Search capabilities (apparently only in six countries as yet). Instant Search is where Google displays results as the user types in their search text.

It seems that, according to Google, it used to take nine seconds for a search, but Instant Search saves two to five seconds of that. The net result is that if people around the world were all using Instant Search it would save 3.5 billion seconds processing time per day in total. has done the sums to translate this figure into kWh and CO2 emissions. The result is that it would save nearly 80 million kWh per year, or 35,875 tonnes of CO2 and several million dollars. According to my calculations, that’s the equivalent of taking nearly 6000 (US) cars of the road (based on US EPA figures).

For those interested, the calculations went as follows:
There are 31,536,000 seconds in one year (365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes x 60 seconds). So Google saves 111 years of use of a PC running 365x24. The average power of a PC (plus screen) when in use is 82 watts and a year is 8,760 hours, so the savings are 79,722 kWh (111 years * 8760 hours * 82 W/h), hence 35,875,000 kg of CO2 (with an emission factor of 0.450 kg CO2/kWh).


Well I’m not sure the maths is exactly right, or the assumptions made, but it does go to show the impact of even very minor changes in IT processes when it’s on a global scale.

It brings home the impact that software can have on reducing processing time and hence power use, which has had little focus as yet. Image what could be saved if all ERP systems, for example, were increased in efficiency so as to reduce their processing time by just a few seconds a day – enormous power (and emissions) savings could be made. It’s not something we hear about, but it must be an area of future green IT focus.

© The Green IT Review

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