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Cloud Power Issue Looms, Says Cisco CTO

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A different type of cloud power issue.

Cisco's Dave Ward says it is critical to find ways to build more efficient data centers over the next few years.

Credit: NOAA

Cisco Systems technologists say it is crucial for the U.S. government to fund basic research into future power consumption issues.

Cisco's Dave Ward notes that Web giants have large data centers that consume as much as 40 to 50 megawatts, but they have plans to build multiple facilities that could draw 120 MW each by 2020. Ward says that amount of energy--just to handle the data--would be equivalent to what is needed to power a city of 500,000 people. He says finding ways to build more efficient data centers will be one of the most critical endeavors over the next few years.

He cites silicon photonics as a breakthrough that could limit the need for bigger data centers. "As a society, we are not investing to get to the root of major power problems," Ward warns.

Power consumption is a problem that also is endemic to chips. "We may break through to where we are leaking more power than we use," Ward notes.

He also postulates that traditional switched telephony equipment may be outdated by 2020, as Ethernet-based systems become the norm.

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