Also accused of “power waste”, will the blockchain of today be the Internet of 1999?


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There is nothing new in the world. In the early days of the development of personal computers and the Internet, this was once regarded as a waste of electricity and energy and causing environmental pollution.

Original title: “In 1999, the Internet was also a waste of electricity”
Written by: Forbes Magazine Translation: Moon

On Saturday, Moments of Friends was swiped by a video of a Bitcoin miner shutting down the mining machine. Everyone coincidentally added the same text, and an era is over.

At 0:00 on June 20th, all Bitcoin and other virtual currency mining machines in Sichuan will be collectively powered off, and the de-sinicization of Bitcoin computing power has become a reality.

No matter what kind of evaluation is made now, it may be too early and unobjective, or let time be the answer.

It’s just that I suddenly remembered the early Internet.

There is nothing new in the world. In the early days of the development of personal computers and the Internet, this was once regarded as a waste of electricity and energy and causing environmental pollution.

In 1999, Forbes magazine published an article “Dig more coal – the PCs are coming” (Dig more coal-the PCs are coming), which criticized the rise of the Internet as a result of increased power consumption and more coal being mined. .

Share this article with you today. Have a nice weekend.


Somewhere in the United States, a lump of coal is burned every time a book is ordered online.

According to the current fuel economy rating: approximately 1 pound of coal can be used to create, package, store and move 2 megabytes of data. Facts have proved that the digital age is very energy-intensive. The Internet may one day save us bricks, plaster and catalog paper, but it is burning a lot of fossil fuels.

Under the hood of personal computers, the demand for “horsepower” doubles every few years. Yes, today’s microprocessors are much more powerful than their pioneers in converting electricity into calculations, but the total demand for digital electricity is growing much faster than efficiency. We are using more chips and bigger chips, and processing more digital information.

In general, chips are running hotter and hotter, fans are turning faster, and the power consumption of our disk drives and screens is rising. For the ancient thermoelectric complex, it is generally believed that it is in a period of decline, and its impact is amazing.

About half of the trillion-dollar infrastructure of today’s power grid serves only two centuries-old technologies-light bulbs and electric motors. Not long ago, this meant that the growth prospects for the power industry were slim. The number of motors and bulbs we have is about the same as our needs. “The long-term supply curve of electricity is as flat as the Kansas horizon,” Green Master Amory Lovins declared in 1984.

However, when Lovins was investigating, IBM and other companies had just begun to launch a large number of personal computers. Today, the global annual output is 50 billion integrated circuits and 200 billion microprocessors, and each of these chips runs on electricity. On its surface, bits are incarnate as electrons, and chips operate at extremely high power densities, up to one-tenth of the surface power density of the sun. Lucent, Notre, Cisco, 3Com, Intel, AMD, Compaq and Dell have become the new General Electric behind the recovery in power demand.

Your personal computer and its peripherals require approximately 1000 watts of power. A study by IntelliQuest shows that Internet users are online 12 hours a week on average, and this usage means about 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity consumption a year.

There are already more than 50 million personal computers in the family, 150 million in the enterprise, another 36 million are sold each year, and 20 million are sold on the Internet.

And for every piece of wired hardware on your desk, there are two or three pieces of equipment lurking outside the network—office hubs and servers, routers, repeaters, amplifiers, remote servers, and so on. The heavy rail that powers Schwab or Amazon usually requires one megawatt, and there are currently more than 17,000 pure Internet companies (Ebay, E-Trade, etc.).

Each larger company represents the electrical load of a small village.

Moving from the Internet to the desktop requires more power. For example, Cisco’s 7500 series routers keep the network hot by routing 400 million bits per second, but to do this, it needs 1.5 kilowatts of power. The wireless network attracts more power because its signals are broadcast in all directions instead of being transmitted through wires or fiber optic tunnels. The digital PC network is still in its infancy, and it is estimated that 70,000 radio base stations will be needed in a few years, and twice that in ten years. Each site burns at least a few kilowatts. The wireless handheld market (the next generation of handheld computers, etc.) will reach 20 million units in annual sales within a few years.

Taken individually, many of these boxes only consume electricity. Today’s handheld devices can run for weeks on a few AAA batteries. Cisco’s latest gigabit router 12000 series can handle 16 times the bandwidth of its predecessor products, but the power consumption is the same. But the total demand for computing power exceeds any efficiency gains. According to data from the Semiconductor Industry Association, today’s most advanced integrated circuits can contain 21 million transistors, run at 400 MHz and have a power of 90 watts; in about ten years, it will give way to 1,800 MHz and a power of 90 watts. 175 watts.

Even if HP’s Toronado and Nokia’s Internet phones eventually rely on body temperature to run, they will also input and output data on the network, thereby driving upstream power demand.

Internet traffic does double every three months. Approximately 17 million households already have two or more personal computers. Communication chips are now migrating away from the desktop. Electrolux recently announced its “Internet Refrigerator,” which is an embedded personal computer that replaces graffiti notes and door magnets. GE has an Internet microwave oven. Software company EmWare is working with Sybase, 3Com and Micron to bring vending machines online to improve inventory and management efficiency.

Just making all these digital boxes requires a lot of power. The multi-billion-dollar manufacturing plant is filled with furnaces, pumps, dryers, and ion beams, all of which are electrically driven. It takes 9 kilowatt-hours to etch a circuit on a square inch of silicon, and the power to make a complete PC (1000 kilowatt-hours) is approximately equivalent to the power required for one year of operation.

A typical fab is already a monster of 10 to 15 megawatts of electricity—electrically speaking, it is about the size of a small steel plant. There are at least 300 such factories in the United States, and fabs and their suppliers currently consume nearly 1% of the electricity output in the United States.

The integration of information and electricity has had a significant impact on overall demand. There are at least 100 million nodes on the Internet, consuming hundreds to thousands of kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, which adds up to a demand of 290 billion kilowatt-hours. This is approximately 8% of total US demand. Add in the electricity used to build and operate independent (unconnected) chips and computers, and the total jumps to about 13%. It is now reasonable to predict that in the next ten years, half of the grid will power the digital-Internet economy.

The Internet has a huge global impact. Intel estimates that 1 billion people are online worldwide. This is equivalent to US$1 trillion in computer sales-and another US$1 trillion in investment in the backbone of the power supply. 1 billion Internet-based personal computers represent the power demand equivalent to the total capacity of the United States today.

But won’t all this new digital intelligence reduce energy demand in other ways? For example, telecommuting and e-mail will reduce consumption in other sectors of the economy. The energy demand in the transportation sector has indeed flattened to a certain extent. The reduction in storage and the overall adjustment of the economy are reducing the demand for gasoline, diesel and heating fuel.

But the demand for electricity has not decreased, because electricity is mainly generated by coal (56%), nuclear power (20%), water power (10%) and natural gas (10%). The computer itself reduces the heating load in the winter because the power to run the chip will eventually be spread as heat, but these benefits are offset by the additional cooling load the computer brings in the summer.

Therefore, despite the great improvements in lighting, cooling and heating efficiency over the years, the total energy consumption per square foot of commercial office buildings has hardly been reduced. The typical home office is set up outside of the office in the city center, not instead.

Canon’s new digital X-ray machine has recently been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It will replace millions of X-rays and tens of thousands of machines, but it may also accelerate the use of more doctor’s offices. The deployment of X-ray machines. These new devices will also take up bandwidth because they will transmit high-resolution pictures on the Internet in order to find second opinions from distant experts. In general, the total power consumption continues to grow by about 3% every year, and more than half of the growth is attributed to the rise of microprocessors.

Another aspect of the grid is also expected to undergo fundamental changes: quality and reliability. The traditional power grid can tolerate a single-cycle standstill for 60 cycles of electricity. For refrigerators, light bulbs and ovens, a small episode in the electric current is just an inconvenience.

For computers and routers, this can be a disaster.

This is why companies like American Power Conversion Corporation, by selling uninterruptible power supplies for everything from desktop computers to network company servers to routers and corporate data centers, have seen their revenues soar 70 times in ten years. Systems and electronic devices that keep electricity clean have seen a similar boom.

Active Power of Austin, Texas has produced a flywheel-based power storage system that is sized to isolate and protect entire office buildings and factories from “dirty” electricity. The 1.4-ton flywheel runs at 7,700 revolutions per second. Spin at the speed of minutes.

American Superconductor of Westborough, Massachusetts uses a two-megawatt superconducting magnet, weighing three-quarters of a ton, to do similar work. Inevitably, more very heavy atoms will be deployed to keep our bits on their designated rounds.

Futurists have promised us an information highway, not a train full of coal, fiber optic cables, not a 600 kV power line, but we will get both at the same time.

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