Fascinating article by Rough Type’s Nicholas Carr on the energy requirements of Second Life. (Okay, so it’s 2 years old, but it seems more relevant today than it did then.)
“We’re running at full power all the time, so we consume an enormous amount of electrical power in co-location facilities [where Second Life/Linden Labs houses their 4,000 server computers] … We’re running out of power for the square feet of rack space that we’ve got machines in. We can’t for example use [blade] servers right now because they would simply require more electricity than you could get for the floor space they occupy.”
– Philip Rosedale, Linden Labs
To put it all in perspective, Sun’s Dave Douglas looked at kilowatt hours in terms of CO2 production to see what the actual ecological impact of an avatar is: Each Second Life avatar requires 1,752kwh/year, which is basically 1.17 tons of CO2.
How does that translate into plain American? Easy: 2,300 SUV miles (or 4,000 Prius miles) per year. For just one avatar.