Technology.am (Sept. 01, 2009) — Faster internet search engine processors could be the key to reducing the environmental impact of the worldwide web, according to scientists at the University of Glasgow.
Using a system employing special low-powered microchips called Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA), scientists was able to search a document index 20 times quicker than a standard processor.
They claims the FPGA system was up to 20 times quicker in returning results compared to a dual-core Intel Itanium-2 processor. Not only that, but the FPGA chips use just a fraction of the power, with the Itanium processor consuming 130 watts compared to the FPGA chips using just 1.25 watts each.
Using search engines such as Google or Yahoo has an energy cost and produces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, not only as a result of the power required to run the user’s computer, but also through the electricity consumed by banks of servers and cooling plants housed in giant, temperature-controlled data centres around the world.
It is estimated that the amount of CO2 generated by a single search request ranges from between 0.2g of CO2 per search, according to Google, to 7g per search, according to US physicist Alex Wissner-Gross of Harvard University.