January 10, 2007

the weight of things

The internet weighs two ounces. So says this guy.

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, a straight forward calculation reveals that if the average chip runs at a Gigaherz , some 50 grams of electrons in motion make up the Internet.

So as of today, cyberspace weighs less than two ounces. It’s hard to gauge its heft more exactly since silicon devices vary in speed, but if you want a handle on The Whole Web instead of just the suburbs that we're wired to , try tripling that figure- there are maybe ten times more mostly idle CPU chips in PC's than in servers, and fewer very busy ones in the world's comparative handful of supercomputers .
I haven't checked this, so I can't vouch for it. Nonetheless, I like these kind of questions.