The soaring size and energy need of data centers

The world’s thirst for data is insatiable: mobile, video, Big Data, IoT, virtual reality. All of this data is housed on servers at data center facilities located all over the world. The biggest one on the planet is in China, the 6.3 million square feet Range International Information Hub. The world’s 10 largest data centers total 18.9 million square feet in size, the equivalent of more than 7,500 U.S. median-sized single family homes. Even more surprising: data centers account for “1.8% of total U.S. electricity consumption.”

There’s an interesting comparison to be made between data centers and airplanes. Boeing, one of the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial airplanes, has its largest production facility in Everett, Washington. That facility is 4.3 million square feet in size, and considered the world’s largest manufacturing building by volume. Which means that the largest commercial jets are manufactured in a factory with a smaller footprint than the largest data center processing tiny digital bits. That really underlines how central data (in all its forms) is to our lives today. 
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