Data centers are a massive waste on our world''s energy resources and are responsible for reducing greenhouse gases. These computing hubs generate 200 million tons of CO2 annually and consume 2% of electricity worldwide, according to Accenture, which expects this figure to reach 8% by 2030. Some of the world''s largest data centers use more than 100MW of power to power about 80,000 households in the United States.
The data center, which was once a hot topic in technology and political circles more than a decade ago. In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a report on server and data center energy use, costs, and efficiency opportunities.
Several years later, a Microsoft researcher proposed underwater data centers, which utilized seawater for cooling. During this time, Highlander recently agreed to construct a commercial underwater data center at Sanya, a coastal town in China.
Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and other companies continue to strive to increase energy-efficient data centers. In a world that continues to grapple with a global epidemic and has seen US workers cancel their jobs at an unprecedented rate, sustainability does not get as much attention as it has previously.
Climate change is the single greatest health threat to humanity, which can result in extreme weather events, extreme disruption of food systems, and the spread of diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Quant computing can also help address this problem.
Quantum computing can assist with carbon fixation, the process of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by converting it into other useful compounds. Plants do this naturally, but quantum computers can assist us in discovering synthetic catalytic processes. Instead of lengthy trial-and-error experiments, quantum computers can efficiently simulate alternatives and develop effective methods to extract carbon dioxide and convert it into useful chemicals.
It''s important to look into how the choice of computing equipment today and in the future will affect energy usage. You may be surprised to discover that quantum computers can perform some calculations much faster using only a fraction of the energy used by classical computers.
Here''s why: A conventional data center computer may use billions of transistors. However, with a quantum computer, you have hundreds or, eventually, millions of qubits (quantum bits). That means you only need enough energy to excite or move around million quantities instead of billions of transistors. And quantum computers can in turn analyze massive data sets in parallel; while classical computers must analyze them serially.
In order to perform the same task, I am not alone in the belief that quantum computers will be more energy-efficient than supercomputers. A team of researchers from the NASAs Ames Research Center, Google, and Oak Ridge National Lab has demonstrated this benefit. In their analysis, the quantum computer used 0.002% of the energy used by a classical computer.
At a time when the world''s need for solutions is bigger than ever, Quantum computing will assist companies and researchers in resolving some of the world''s previously unsolvable problems, such as drug discovery, electric vehicle battery innovation, and power grid optimization.
The need for companies and countries to develop quantum solutions to their advantage is growing. However, it is important to remember that when it comes to climate change, we all had a hand in this process. We all benefit from the potential benefits that quantum computing has. The fact that quantum computers require far less energy than conventional ones makes them even more valuable.
Nir Minerbi is the co-founder and CEO of Classiq.