Science Questions

What is the energy cost of keeping a computer cool?

Sat, 10th Sep 2011

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Question

Michaela Livingstone asked:

Cooling helps computing efficiency, but cooling takes energy - are there other ways of increasing the efficiency to power ratio?

 

Answer

Paul -   It all depends on the air-conditioning system you've got, but in Cambridge, our power costs are 25% of our total running costs which in this case is about 250,000 a year.  The cooling is 1/3 of that power, so around 80,000 pounds a year just to keep it cool.

Dave -   I guess if you're just dealing with an individual laptop, then their cooling is going to be far, far less than that [as a proportion] because its just running a small fan.

Paul -   In a laptop, you can just cool passively to air whilst we have to actively take the heat away.

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Anything that assits in the cooling would do that, using a computer table that has a better material to withdraw the heat away, not putting the computer near a heating system, opening a window. Sure there are lots of ways. Wiybit, Wed, 30th Mar 2011

Michaela Livingstone asked the Naked Scientists: Cooling helps computing efficiency, but cooling takes energy - are there other ways of increasing the efficiency to power ratio? What do you think? Michaela Livingstone, Tue, 13th Sep 2011

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