Data Centre Economies of Scale

Dave Levy
3 min readOct 23, 2009
from wallpaper up, believed to be an orphan work

At the Waters:Power09, last week, Bob Giffords argued there are three ‘gravitational’ forces leading to the mega data centres and cloud computing.

  • There’s too much data to move, it needs to stay where its created.
  • Intra system & total latency is still a problem, and hence systems are best co-located with the data.
  • He argues that energy management is a gravitational issue.

It remains true today that moving a terrabyte of data, significant distances, by tape and courier is quicker than using a network. This fact shows how much work needs to be done to get data into a system or cluster. Memory to CPU transfer speeds become seemingly slow, when looking at automated trading solutions. It’s also interesting to observe that the ratio of storage to systems in HPC grids is growing which itself an indicator of how new architectures enable enormous data volumes to be trawled, they’re a new class of data rich analytics applications.

I am unsure about the gravitational nature of energy management, unless he’s referring to things like Iceland’s selling of its clean energy as a locational advantage, or Denmark’s decision to localise power generation in order to avoid the transmission loss. Funny how even Data Centre managers are getting to grips with the power to cool/power to run issues, but everyone’s…



Dave Levy

Brit, Londoner, economist, Labour, privacy, cybersecurity, traveller, father - mainly writing about UK politics & IT,