Second lives consume more energy than first lives: IBM

According to one IBM exec, an avatar in Second Life now consumes more energy than a person in Brazil.

According to one IBM exec, an avatar in Second Life now consumes more energy than a person in Brazil.

"It's unacceptable that a virtual person can consume more energy than a real person," Rich Lechner, vice president of IT optimisation at IBM said today of Second Life avatars.

While Lechner didn't reveal the source of the measurement, it's thought to be technology writer and blogger Nicholas Carr who, in a blog post last December made a rough calculation that Second Life avatars consume as much electricity as people in developing countries, such as Brazil.

With an increasing number of carbon footprints now generated via virtual worlds, Lechner called for improvements in Internet infrastructure to decrease energy consumption. "At the end of the day we need to make sure that the infrastructure that supports the Internet ... is fundamentally more efficient than it is today," he said.

Datacentres alone produce two percent of worldwide carbon emissions, he said.

IBM's customers are starting to have a realisation of how energy-hungry datacentres are, Lechner said. As customers install more data-intensive equipment like blade servers, the heat and energy requirements escalate and as a result, "datacentre managers are running out of power", he added.

In its own global datacentre, Lecher claims that IBM has doubled its computing capacity without increasing its CO2 emissions, energy requires or physical footprints. The largest IT provider in the world has already reduced its CO2 emissions by 40 percent and hopes to reduce it by a further 12 percent in the next five years, he said.

Lecher claims users can reduces datacentre energy requirements and CO2 emissions by 40 percent through an approach that includes virtualisation, increasing the efficiency of existing IT systems and considering the implications of all kit within the datacentre.