I've just read Greenpeace's report on the energy sources for serverfarms.
There's some interesting takeaways. Looks even more vital now to promote alternative entertainment outside of the "streaming services"!
Streaming is not green. Downloading it won't be much better, but will once you've rewatched it instead of something else!
Another interesting takeaway: Only GAFAM are doing well at sourcing green energy. The asian giants are doing terribly on that measure.
Of them Amazon lags worryingly (worrying because they provide infrastructure for most other Internet services) behind.
@alcinnz what about p2p content? Like torrents or ipfs. Do you think those would improve something?
@grilix In important cases, yes I do think so! At the very least it won't hurt.
@grilix Same here: I personally think we need valid numbers to compare. What's the power consumption for keeping data stored in a P2P network (which possibly will have to be massively redundant)? What about the costs for encryption here (which I consider a "must have" but which seems crucial as it pretty likely will require a lot of compute power on various ends)? I sometimes fear we're trying to solve too many issues at once in a rather "straightforward" way where it actually ...
@icedquinn This prevailing ideology in turns also has two aspects to it: (a) In most environments I know, getting skilled developers is close to impossible so you'd rather focus on high-level languages and spend some more hardware to run them. And (b) Go essentially is a Google project (product?) ... 😐
@icedquinn @alcinnz @grilix @breaktheirbank @z428 No quantum computers are large enough to come anywhere close to breaking any widely used curves. They don't act like classical computers where you can fake having more bits by doing multiple operations, you really do need (many) more qubits than the bit size of the curves you're working with, and it's believed to be impractical to entangle enough qubits at the same time to do it.
@icedquinn @alcinnz @grilix @z428 There is another reason, why quantum computing is not a treat now. While quantum supremacy gives us up to exponential speed up, real quantum computers shurely disobey Moore's law. Even more, I would say, that creating n-qubit quantum computer is an O(e^n) problem.)))
@lanodan Agree. Two things to add however: Personal (datacenter) experience is that redundancy in a "central environment" also is an issue but is a bit easier to address because at least all the machines are under your control. In a decentralized environment (where redundancy is provided third parties) this becomes a bit more different if you want to do it in a reliable way. Plus: This "keeping good data" is an interesting aspect. I'm not thinking all along the ...
Sorry for jumping in, but may I ask which are those "RAM eaters" when you speak about self hosting?
@lanodan Don't get me wrong - I'm not arguing against this idea here. 🙂 I'd actually just be interested whether there are *any* figures or numbers to compare these approaches including as much "side-effects" as possible. Most of these calculations I've seen so far seem pretty much "biased".
@jamesmullarkey It's interesting that judging by that report, that singular facet of "tech"'s operations, MAGAF are our environmental saviours!
At the same time they heavily push (via Dark Patterns) consumption patterns that (I strongly suspect) are environmentally damaging, campaign against our Right To Repair, & make excessive use of bandwidth & the client's battery for the sake of a profit. I don't know how it balances out.
@alcinnz @jamesmullarkey very well put. Facebook runs very efficient data centers (hardware wise. Not that sure about software given how widely Hack and Python is used), but a lot of the CPU cycles are used to determine how best to keep eyeballs on the site and to optimize ad delivery -- leading to even more unnecessary consumption.
If not for being able to work on open source projects that advance the state of the art my internal calculus would probably push me out.
Through surveillance capitalism they are dragnetting all possible data and storing it indefinately even if it doesn't have any use.
They are the destroyers. :(
I'm about to launch a download only podcast BTW for this very reason.
@alcinnz I am recently pretty torn about that. From one perspective, I applaud the idea to download instead of streaming whole-heartedly. Then again, in example looking at friends running Synology boxes, QNAPs or large Linux servers at home, 24x7 with large disks to store all the stuff they downloaded even by now, I wonder whether we do have a "total" energy-wise look at this issue. 😐
@z428 Two thoughts here:
1) Do they still care about all those downloads?
2) I think I've seen terrabytes-large USB sticks. Strip off the surrounding computer, leave the storage.
@z428 3) It all depends on what the individual wants to do. Streaming *can* be more efficient for those who don't like rewatching.
@alcinnz Both talking about movies and music, I think it boils down to keeping a "collection". Back in our youth we used to have MC tapes, later CDs, literally hundreds of them, and it was a mess to find what you wanted to listen to, especially in case you had visitors and wanted music for a party. As far as I see it used, YouTube and Spotify mainly satisfy this need - provide a virtually infinite collection or archive that "has everything available". Mimicking this locally, I'm at best ...
@alcinnz ... thinking all the lines of simple, extensible USB disk subsystems that can easily be powered up and down but do not need to be running *all the time*; yet I have to find things like that. So far using large external USB single drives creates another interesting issue: How to backup these beasts? Keeping backups of, like, 6..10TB of media files is interesting in personal use both in terms of media and in terms of process... 😉
Most of the movies, songs and ebooks are widely available on the Internet, so no need for backup.
Such portable hard disks ideally spend so little time running that they will be too small before they break. At least that's my experience.
(Plus I run mine entirely on electricity from renewables.)
I think the bigger problem is people reusing old hardware or standard desktop or gaming PCs as servers, as they generally aren't designed for low power consumption.
@mathew @alcinnz @z428 I remember reading a study about this wrt. laptops; it takes about seven years for a new, more energy efficient laptop to break even with the energy needed to produce it. Of course those numbers will be drastically different with different degrees of utilisation and power efficiency, but I think the energy efficiency effect is typically overestimated.
@michiel Yes.... that's an aspect I didn't even have in mind at the moment. But as always... things get more difficult, the closer you look. No real idea how to ever come to a meaningful conclusion here. Every "solution" seems to have pretty "interesting" drawbacks in other dimensions. 😐
@z428 @mathew @alcinnz Agreed. It's frustrating; I'd like to contribute something tangible to the reduction of fossil fuel use, and this *is* a field I'm at least familiar with, but it's clear that there are too many trade-offs to easily find big wins. Which doesn't mean that these big wins don't exist ...
Second best is to be vegan or vegetarian.
Reducing electricity consumption is pretty far down the list.
I'm a software engineer; my entire supposed value in the labor market comes from my ability to solve problems *once* and reuse the solution infinitely many times over.
If we investigate and educate each other about good choices in this problem space, we *can* have a significant impact as a profession.
@mathew @z428 @alcinnz We can't reasonably expect someone watching Netflix to realize how much energy they're using. Making the consumer responsible for something that happens completely out of their sight is not a reasonable solution.
We (I think we're all tech geeks here) are the ones who know how the sausages get made. We even have some influence about what goes into them.
@michiel @z428 @alcinnz
I've just realized that I mostly stream TV and movies, because I'm mostly unlikely to watch them again; but I download music, which I listen to repeatedly. This isn't a position I ended up with for energy efficiency reasons, though. It's just a happy coincidence.
(The few movies that I know I'll want to watch repeatedly, I still buy on disc.)
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