ChatGPT Water Usage


Good article covering the water usage in data centres, with a focus on those used for training AI.

[Aside: Interestingly, the Techmeme summary title is a little click-baity (which is unusual because techmeme usually takes the hype out of articles).]

The summary seems to be that data centres can take up to 1 litre of water for every 100 ChatGPT prompts from users.

The calculation comes from a university researcher using Microsoft’s latest environmental report (from 2022) to attribute that the 34% increase in water usage over the prior year was due to ChatGPT.

There’s lots of assumptions in the article, as well as unknowns (eg it’s not clear how much of the water is re-used).

The main point of interest is that the main ChatGPT training data centres are in Iowa, due to weather benefits.

Importantly though, water isn’t free and Microsoft (and every other data centre builder) is focussed on reducing water (and energy) use.

It’s useful to know that AI is water and energy consuming, but not a surprise. And not something that isn’t being closely optimised by the big tech companies.

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By Craig Bailey