AWS has 5.3 million servers

AWS had their annual re:invent conference in late November. One of my favorite talks was “Tuesday Night Live with James Hamilton.” James providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the infrastructure powering AWS. James dedicated the last 5 minutes of his talk to AWS’s commitment to renewable energy. He gave specific numbers that, when put together, gives us a pretty good picture into the actual size of AWS.

This slide shows how much of AWS’s overall data usage has been renewable at different points in time:

25% was renewable in April 2015
40% is renewable today (November 2016)
45% targeted renewable end of 2016
50% targeted renewable end of 2017

We don’t necessarily know yet how much total power consumption is renewable, only that it was 25% in April 2015 and is 40% in November 2016 when this slide was presented.

But James also gave some absolute numbers! Highlighting several recent renewable energy projects:

January 2015: 150MW
June 2015: 80MW
July 2015: 208MW
Novemer 2015: 100MW
October 2016: 189MW

This doesn’t show how much renewable energy that had before January 2015, but between January 2015 and November 2016, AWS added 727 MW.

Lets put aside the January 2015 event and focus specifically on the April 2015 — November 2016 timeframe. You probably see where I’m going with this.

80+208+100+189 = 577 renewable MW added between April 2015 and November 2016.

Of course, AWS wasn’t standing still during this time. They surely added more servers, consuming more power. How much is that?

James says they “little less than doubled” during that period. Hard to say exactly what “little less than doubled” is. Let’s say they increased by 85%. We can come back to this number a little bit later and see how it affects the total server count.

So now we have enough information to calculate total megawatts with some simple algebra:

renewable_nov_2016 = renewable_apr_2015 + 577
renewable_apr_2015 = .25 * total_apr_2015
total_nov_2016 = total_apr_2015 * 1.85
renewable_nov_2016 = .4 * total_nov_2016


577 + (.25 * total_apr_2015) = .4 * (total_apr_2015 * 1.85)
577 = .4 * (total_apr_2015 * 1.85) — (.25*total_apr_2015)
577 = .49 * total_apr_2015
total_apr_2015 = 1177
total_nov_2016 = 1177 * 2 = 2354MW

So by my math AWS has 2354MW today. How many servers is that?

25–32MW is 50–80k servers 
32MW being 80k servers is 2500 servers/MW.
25MW being 50k servers is 2000 servers/MW
Let’s average those two points and say 2250 servers/MW (each server is thus 444w, including power conversion and cooling)

So 2354MW * 2250 = AWS has ~5.3M servers

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“in 2015 aws deployed almost enough server capacity every day to support amazon in 2005”

18 months from april 2015 to now. Doubled power in that time
for arguments sake lets say power/server stayed the same. in april 2015 aws had ~2M servers
they added 2M servers in the 18 months subsequent
547 days in 18 months

so in 2015 added 3656 servers a day
in 2005 AWS was (slightly more than because the word ‘almost’) 3656 servers

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compare this to revenue

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compare this to past predictions on AWS server count:

450K servers in March 2012

40K servers in October 2009

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