Wednesday, January 17, 2007


The Internet weighs two ounces

`Parts of the original DARPAnet were built like a tank to survive a thermonuclear holocaust. But much post-modern net construction is utterly gossamer, all air and microwaves. Wherever the two come together, boxes full of integrated circuits bear labels that specify how much power they can handle, and solid state textbooks reveal how much of the silicon gets hot, and how much just sits around. In short, you can do the math.

A statistically rough (one sigma) estimate might be 75-100 million servers @ ~350-550 watts each.. Call it Forty Billion Watts or ~40 GW. Since silicon logic runs at three volts or so, and an Ampere is some ten to the eighteenth electrons a second, if the average chip runs at a Gigaherz, straightforward calculation reveals that some 50 grams of electrons in motion make up the Internet.

Applying the unreasonable power of dimensional analysis to the small tonnage of silicon involved yields much the same result. [..]’

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