CarbonFirst - Decarbonizing Cloud Computing

The CarbonFirst Project focuses on making cloud and edge computing sustainable and carbon-free.

While the cloud’s energy demand grew more slowly than expected over the past decade due to aggressive energy-efficiency optimizations, there are few remaining optimization opportunities using traditional methods.

As a result, moving forward, the cloud’s exponential growth will translate more directly into exponentially rising energy demand, which will position it as one of the primary contributors to global carbon emissions. To address the problem, this project elevates carbon-efficiency to a first-class metric in designing carbon-efficient clouds that can enable continued exponential growth.

CarbonFirst’s MassZero Solar-powered Edge Testbed.
The CarbonFirst Architecture
The CarbonFirst Architecture.


The project’s foundation focuses on developing a software-defined energy virtualization layer that provides applications visibility into, and control of, their own energy and carbon usage. The project will then leverage this foundation to develop a number of higher-level systems abstractions for developing and supporting carbon-efficient applications at different geographical scales: local edge, regional edge, and global cloud.

The project will deploy a prototype of its carbon-efficient systems and applications at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), a 15MW production data center, and the MassZero testbed, a co-located experimental edge computing facility powered by a co-located 6kW solar array and 25kWh of controllable Lithium-Ion batteries.


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