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05.02.2013

What impact does your XBOX have on the world’s Data Centres?

With January well and truly over and Christmas a distant memory I asked myself the question, “what impact does all the game consoles and games sold before Christmas have on the global data centre market?” With allegedly 57.8 million Xbox 360s and 14.5 million copies of Halo 3 sold alone to date, the numbers of people engaging in on-line gaming is immense. This phenomena appeals to people for many reasons, gamers get to “socialize” on-line without leaving there homes, getting of the coach or straying to far from the pizza. Joking aside though, playing other humans rather than computer programs often presents more of a challenge and, undoubtedly, more satisfaction for gamers. Games like Call of Duty and Halo allow gamers to play against, and beat, other real people. With the assistance of headsets and mics gamers can interact with each other adding insult to injury throughout hours and hours of gaming sessions. On-line games have no borders and gamers can find themselves interacting with team mates and competitors from all round the globe. This would probably offer a great conduit for world peace if not for the fact we are all totally focused on blowing each other away in a number of different historical, contemporary and futuristic backdrops. While musing upon this subject I was emailed by Natalie, since the subject was at the forefront of my mind I asked her the very question…

As Natalie is always keen for a challenge she took up the gauntlet and went about finding out what this impact is. So let me pose the question again and hand you over to Natalie’s answer…….

“What impact does all the game consoles and games sold have on the global data centre market?”

Gamers demand a lot. Today’s gaming enthusiasts demand superior graphics and audio, very responsive reaction and easy communication among players. Latency, the time it takes the game to respond to the gamer’s actions, is crucial in playability. Slow response times mean the difference between winning or losing, and for gamers the stakes are high. It’s a matter of pride, and for a growing number of gamers, a matter of money.

Globally, there are a total of 509,147 data centers, according to Emerson Network Power, but it is unclear how many of these are dedicated to gaming. Larger gaming developers, such as Blizzard, own multiple data centers around the world, while smaller companies depend on third-party servers to support their games. This means there is a lot of overlap and it’s impossible to determine how many servers are dedicated to gaming and how many share data centre resources with other businesses and activities.

World of Warcraft alone requires 10 data centers around the globe, comprised of no fewer than 20,000 systems and a mind-boggling 1.3 petabytes of storage space, according to Blizzard executives Allen Brack and Frank Pearce speaking at a recent gaming convention in Austin, TX. All together, data centers around the world take up the same amount of space as 5,955 football fields, Emerson reports.

Smaller gaming companies depend on data centers such as Switch in Las Vegas. Switch is a massive data center located in the Nevada desert. A prime location in one respect as there are virtually no natural disaster threats here that could knock out services, not so good for compressor free cooling though I think…. . Switch manages many gaming operations, in addition to services for eBay, Yahoo! and other worldwide corporations.

Gamers around the world spend three billion hours a week gaming on every device from TVs to multimedia notebooks, according to Reality is Broken author Jane McGonial. Half a billion people in the world play games at least one hour per day, with a whopping five million Americans spending more than 40 hours per week playing online games. Combine this tremendous demand with the high expectation of users in terms of player experience, and it amounts to more computer power than the average person can comprehend.

Canada leads the world in money spent on gaming, with the United States coming in second, according to comScore. These countries are followed by the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Italy, Sweden, Australia and France. As the Middle Eastern countries garner more expendable income and gain widespread access to the Internet, gaming popularity is on the rise there, as well.

The resilience level of a data centre is determined by its Tier. A tier 1 data center is considered the least reliable, though these data centers experience 99.671 percent uptime. Tier 2 data centers enjoy 99.741 percent availability, tier 3 claim 99.982 percent availability and tier 4 boasts 99.999 percent availability. What is the difference in 0.324 percent reliability? Ask an avid Call of Duty player who is minutes away from entering Prestige Mode on multi player right before the game crashes and you’ll get a pretty good answer.

Now before I get too “fragged out” I’ll sign off.

If you want to know more about data centres, uptime and Tier ratings we’ll be releasing further blogs through the year. In the meantime if you have any questions on the subject please feel free to email info@future-tech.co.uk.

References:

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2011/12/14/how-many-data-centers-emerson-says-500000/

http://www.internap.com/category/data-centers/

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/11/call-of-duty-esports/

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2009/11/25/wows-back-end-10-data-centers-75000-cores/

http://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/data-center-standard-overview/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/10/countries-most-time-spent-online_n_834326.html#s252060&title=11_India_

Bio: Natalie Bracco is a freelance tech writer and an amateur gamer. When she’s not busy gaming on her mulitimedia notebook. She enjoys answering tough questions like the correlation between gaming and global data centres. Follow her on Twitter @NatalieBracco.

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