Down on the server farm

May 23, 2011, 9:00 AM UTC

Inside this nondescript warehouse, perched along Oregon’s Columbia River, computer networks respond to millions of commands instantaneously. Search for “pants size 12” or “mermaid parade,” and your results will race through a Google data center like this — and then right back to you. How much does it cost now to build a complete data center? Roughly $479 million. –Tara Moore

7.5 million is the number of data centers around the world, ranging from small server closets to enterprise operations. Roughly 3.1 million are in the U.S.

50% is the percentage by which Google has reduced energy consumption by doing things like keeping temperatures higher. (Employees often wear shorts to work.)

28,000,000,000,000,000,000 (yes, that’s 28 quintillion) is the total number of bytes of data that flow across networks per month. That’s the equivalent of 14 million people continuously streaming Avatar in 3-D throughout the month.

Sources: Google (GOOG), Cisco (CSCO), Gartner, IDC