Power Hungry AI

How AI is chugging power, affecting climate change, as data centers struggle to keep up

🔋💡🏢🔥 Nvidia grabbed the spotlight this month as it became the world’s most valuable company, passing Microsoft. However, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang is wary of customers' inability to deploy their devices due to insufficient power and data space.

If you've been reading for a while, you probably noticed I always am trying to improve the format. This week, I added a new section called My AI Toolbox, which includes some of my favorite tools and new tools I am trying.

Thank you for subscribing; it means a lot to me. Enjoy this week’s edition.

Sentiment Analysis

How AI Is Affecting Climate Change

One of the growing concerns about AI, besides its taking jobs, is its effect on the planet. Generative AI queries are significantly more energy-intensive than traditional search engine requests, with studies indicating they consume four to five times more power. Image generation tasks, in particular, require substantially more energy than text-based operations.

Morgan Stanley Research indicates that generative AI’s power demands will skyrocket 70% annually. By 2027, generative AI could use as much energy as Spain needed to power itself in 2022. 

This increased energy consumption contributes to higher carbon emissions, potentially worsening climate change. Daily AI queries are expected to skyrocket as chatbots and image generators gain popularity, leading to greater adoption of generative models and fiercer competition among tech companies. This trend could further amplify the environmental impact of AI technologies.

On the other hand, AI may be our best hope for finding a novel solution for halting man-made climate change. In April, the Bezos Earth Fund (named for Jeff Bezos, whose Amazon Web Services is one of the biggest climate offenders) announced a multi-year $100 million AI for Climate and Nature Grand Challenge.

The World Economic Forum notes that almost 4 billion people already live in areas highly vulnerable to climate change, according to the World Health Organization. This is expected to lead to around 250,000 extra deaths a year between 2030 and 2050 from undernutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress alone. In Africa, AI is being used in a United Nations project to help communities vulnerable to climate change in Burundi, Chad, and Sudan. Another AI system is helping to tackle climate change by making waste management more efficient.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, waste is a major producer of methane and is responsible for 16% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Greyparrot, a software startup based in London, United Kingdom, has developed an AI system that analyzes waste processing and recycling facilities to help them recover and recycle more waste material.

In the Netherlands, an environmental organization called The Ocean Cleanup uses AI and other technologies to help clear plastic pollution from the ocean. AI that detects objects is helping the organization create detailed maps of ocean litter in remote locations. The ocean waste can then be gathered and removed, which is more efficient than previous cleanup methods using trawlers and airplanes.

Plastic pollution contributes to climate change by emitting GHGs and harming nature. Google DeepMind, Google’s AI research laboratory, says it is applying AI to help fight climate change in many areas.


Top Generative AI News

  • Anthropic Claude Opus 3.5 - Sonnet 3.5 is the latest version of Anthropic’s standout model. It’s getting rave reviews for its rapid processing speed, advanced coding and vision capabilities, and cost-effectiveness. It’s particularly noted for its ability to perform complex tasks with nuanced understanding and humor and its innovative Artifacts feature, which enhances user interaction with dynamic content creation.

  • Microsoft Pulls AI ‘Recall’ Feature From New PCs Amid Privacy Concerns - Microsoft has decided to limit the availability of a new feature called Recall, which was set to be included in its upcoming line of PCs. The decision comes after the feature faced criticism from security experts and lawmakers. Recall, which captures screenshots of users' screens every five seconds and utilizes an AI search engine to allow users to search for recently used web pages or files, will now be restricted to those who opt-in to test the feature.

  • Amazon is Working on a ChatGPT Competitor - Amazon is working on a new AI service to compete with ChatGPT. The project is internally code-named "Metis.” Metis uses RAG (retrieval-augmented generation) to provide up-to-date information and automate tasks.

Feature Story

Power Hungry AI

As businesses and researchers harness AI's power to innovate and solve complex problems, reliance on high-performance GPUs has become more critical than ever, marking a new era of technological evolution.

From Gaming to Crypto to AI

Initially developed to render complex graphics for video games, GPUs have come a long way since their inception. The rise of cryptocurrency mining in the 2010s saw GPUs repurposed for a new workload.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum rely on proof-of-work algorithms, which GPUs are well-suited to handle due to their parallel processing capabilities. This led to a surge in demand for GPUs, driving up prices and production.

The profitability of crypto mining created a booming secondary market for GPUs, making them a hot commodity.

Increasing Energy Demands Fueled by AI

GPUs, designed for parallel processing, are essential for complex computations. Unlike central processing units (CPUs), GPUs can handle thousands of tasks simultaneously, making them ideal for deep learning and AI applications. However, this performance comes at a cost—energy consumption.

For some perspective, enterprise-grade CPUs such as the AMD EPYC or Intel Xeon can consume between 200 and 400W. The NVIDIA H100 GPU typically consumes around 350 watts, but depending on the specific configuration and workload, it can reach up to 700 watts.

GPUs have consistently expanded computing horizons, transformed the gaming industry, fueled the crypto surge, and driven the AI evolution. Yet, their transition from gaming to business uses has presented notable obstacles related to energy consumption and data center infrastructure.

The cryptocurrency crash of 2022 inadvertently set the stage for the current AI boom by freeing up vast amounts of GPU capacity, redirecting it towards AI applications. Meanwhile, as part of the CHIPS and Science Act, the Biden Administration's investment in semiconductor manufacturing aims to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor industry and address these growing demands for chips to power our AI needs.

The New Wave of GPUs

Besides Nvidia, Apple and Groq are at the forefront of developing specialized hardware to enhance AI efficiency.

Apple’s M4 chip includes enhanced energy efficiency. The chip aims to provide high-performance computing with reduced power consumption, targeting consumer devices and enterprise applications.

Groq’s tensor streaming processor (TSP) architecture is optimized for AI inference tasks. It delivers high performance while maintaining lower power consumption compared to traditional GPUs. This makes Groq an attractive option for data centers looking to optimize AI workloads.

NVIDIA continues to push the boundaries of GPU performance even further Blackwell processor. The Blackwell processor is set to deliver unprecedented computational power, potentially increasing data centers' power and cooling requirements. However, according to Huang, Blackwell chips are between seven and 30 times faster than the existing H100 processors while consuming a fraction of the power—about 25 times less, to be precise.

The Rising Problem: Space and Power Limitations

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang is concerned about potential threats to the company's continued growth despite its current dominance in the AI chip market. Huang is worried that cloud providers may not be expanding data center capacity quickly enough to accommodate Nvidia's chips, which could impact sales. To mitigate risks, Nvidia is diversifying into software and cloud services, including its own server rental business, DGX Cloud.

This move puts Nvidia in direct competition with its biggest customers like Microsoft and AWS, creating tension in the industry. Huang is also carefully managing chip allocation and trying to influence how customers install GPUs in their data centers, which has led to conflicts with significant customers like Microsoft.

To address these challenges, Nvidia is aggressively pushing its software products, such as Nvidia AI Enterprise, which it hopes will become a significant revenue stream and strengthen customer loyalty. The company is also trying to maximize hardware sales by designing server racks for its next flagship chip, potentially pressuring the margins of server manufacturers.

However, Nvidia faces potential risks, including a possible slowdown in demand for its chips and increased competition from cloud providers developing their own AI chips. To solve these problems, Nvidia must successfully transition into a software and services company while maintaining its hardware dominance. This may involve continued investment in R&D, strategic partnerships, and managing customer relationships to balance competition and cooperation.

The point that Nvidia and the industry are facing is that the rapid surge in GPU usage has placed unprecedented demands on data center infrastructure, pushing the limits of traditional designs and capabilities.

  • Power Density - Traditional data centers were not designed to handle the power density of modern GPUs. This mismatch results in overheating and necessitates advanced cooling solutions, driving up costs. High-performance GPUs, essential for AI and machine learning tasks, consume significantly more power than standard servers, leading to challenges in maintaining optimal operating conditions.

  • Space Constraints - Housing multiple high-power GPUs requires significant physical space. Many data centers, already operating near capacity, struggle to expand due to real estate limitations. The high demand for GPUs exacerbates these space constraints, leading to innovative solutions like vertical stacking and modular data centers.

  • Cooling Challenges - Efficient cooling is critical for maintaining GPU performance and longevity. As GPU power usage increases, so does the heat they generate, posing substantial cooling challenges.

    High-performance GPUs generate substantially more heat, often exceeding the capabilities of traditional air cooling systems. This has led to the adoption of more advanced and costly cooling solutions, such as liquid cooling, which can efficiently dissipate heat but requires significant infrastructure changes.

The energy required for cooling can account for up to 40% of a data center’s total energy consumption, exacerbating the overall energy problem. With rising GPU usage, the need for efficient cooling solutions becomes even more critical, driving hardware and facility design innovations.

Potential Solutions for AI Power Consumption

To mitigate the environmental impact, data centers can integrate renewable energy sources.

  • Nuclear, Solar, and Wind Power - Utilizing renewable energy can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of data centers. Companies like Google and Amazon are investing heavily in renewable energy to power their data centers, setting a precedent for the industry. As someone who grew up in the shadow of Three Mile Island, ironically, I think nuclear energy is perhaps our greatest hope. Nuclear energy can efficiently meet the high power demands of generative AI systems due to its high energy density and reliable baseload power. It produces minimal greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with sustainability goals. The scalability of modern nuclear reactors, including small modular reactors, ensures that energy production can grow with AI needs.

  • Energy Storage - Advanced energy storage solutions can help manage the intermittent nature of renewable energy, ensuring a consistent power supply. Battery storage systems are becoming increasingly vital for maintaining uninterrupted operations.

Efficient Data Center Design

Innovative designs can help address space and power constraints.

  • Modular Data Centers - These portable units can be quickly deployed and scaled according to demand, offering flexibility and efficiency. They are an excellent solution for expanding capacity without extensive physical infrastructure.

  • High-Density Racks - Designing racks that maximize vertical space utilization can help accommodate more GPUs without expanding the data center’s physical footprint. High-density racks are becoming more popular as they allow for greater capacity within existing space constraints.

  • Liquid Cooling -This method is more efficient than traditional air cooling, reducing the energy required. Liquid cooling systems can more effectively handle GPUs' high heat output, improving performance and energy efficiency.

    GPUs are submerged in a thermally conductive but electrically insulating liquid, providing superior cooling performance and energy efficiency. Immersion cooling is an emerging technology that offers significant advantages regarding heat dissipation and operational costs.


The power consumption of GPUs presents a significant challenge for both data centers and the environment. As the demand for high-performance computing grows, adopting sustainable practices and innovative technologies is imperative. Integrating renewable energy, optimizing data center design, and implementing advanced cooling solutions are critical steps toward addressing the power problem. By taking these measures, the tech industry can continue to advance while minimizing its environmental impact.

Prompt of the Week

Creating Charts and Graphs with ChatGPT

Creating charts and graphs with ChatGPT is an efficient way to visualize data for analysis and presentation. Users can create bar charts, line charts, pie charts, and scatter plots by simply inputting their data and specifying the desired chart format. This process allows for quick and accurate data visualization, enhancing the ability to derive insights and make informed decisions.

How to Use This Prompt

I kept this prompt simple because I often don’t know how to visualize the data until I see the chart. Using this prompt, you can upload a CSV or Excel sheet and have ChatGPT provide multiple charts. You may want to go back into Excel or Google Sheets to create your final chart to apply formatting and themes, but this is a quick and dirty way to visualize data.

I have a dataset with several columns containing various types of data. 

Please create the following charts:

1. **Bar Chart**: Display the total values for each category.
2. **Line Chart**: Show the trend of values over time.
3. **Pie Chart**: Illustrate the proportion of values by category.
4. **Scatter Plot**: Visualize the relationship between two variables.
5. **Histogram**: Show the distribution of values across different ranges.
6. **Heatmap**: Display the correlation between multiple variables.
7. **Box Plot**: Compare the distributions of values across different categories.

For each chart, ensure to include appropriate titles, labels, and legends to make the visualizations clear and informative. Use the appropriate styling and color schemes to ensure readability.

What’s In My AI Toolbox

I decided to dedicate this section to the latest AI tools I use. It will be updated, but everything on this list is something I use or am experimenting with.

Latest Additions

These are the tools I am test-driving right now. Eventually, they might make it into my everyday AI Toolbelt.

  • EasyGen - A Chrome extension to turn your ideas into LinkedIn posts.

  • Eleven Studios Text - Create distinctive sound effects directly from text descriptions, streamlining your audio production process

My EveryDay AI Toolbelt

These are some of my favorite tools, which I use every week.

  • PromptForge - A way to organize ChatGPT prompts in a handy Chrome extension.

  • Runway - Great platform for generating video, I use it for marketing videos.

  • Synthesia - Among the best ways to create videos with avatars for promotional and training videos with text-to-video AI. It’s nice to search and replace text and change videos without having to “refilm” segments.

  • Gamma - For creating presentations and coming up with ideas

  • Suno - Nice for creating music

Midjourney For AI Toolbox Image

/imagine prompt: An illustration inspired by Aaron Draplin, featuring a sleek, modern AI toolbox with various tools like a robotic arm, neural network diagram, data charts, cloud symbol, and cogwheel with digital circuits. The color scheme utilizes #CC3333 for intense highlights and #3399CC for background elements, creating an energetic and eye-catching look under bright, crisp lighting.-stylize 1000

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Mark R. Hinkle

Your AI Sherpa,

Mark R. Hinkle
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