What to Do When Energy Issues Fall On Your Lap

High voltage powerlines.Historically the IT industry has been focused on one goal: Delivering faster and more reliable technology. Now a new demand has been thrown into the mix: Reducing energy consumption. When other departments were covering the electricity tab, IT didn’t have to worry about the harsh reality of rising power bills. But those days have come to an end.

“Most chief information officers don’t even consider electricity, so they don’t know that energy reduction should be on their radar. But many companies are asking IT to pay for its consumption and are building the reduction of energy consumption into compensation packages,” says Jose Iglesias, vice-president of global solutions for Symantec.

One of the biggest contributors to this problem is technology that is under-utilized (but sucking up energy still). Out of the seven million servers shipped worldwide, approximately six million are Intel x86 processors loaded with only a single application. This means that only 5% to 10% of a server is being used when the company is still paying for 100% of the electricity needed to run each server. With a server per application it’s no surprise data centers are getting crowded fast and the demands on cooling the data center just add to the electricity draw. [Read more…]

Q&A: How can I find out how much energy is being consumed by my organization’s desktop computers?

With most devices you can look at the label to see how much energy they use, but that doesn’t work very well with computers because the label gives the theoretical maximum, not the typical amount used.

A computer label or power supply that says 300 watts might only use about 70 watts when it’s actually running, and only 100 even in peak times with serious number-crunching and all the drives spinning.

There are many inexpensive energy meters available on the market (such as Cyber Guys Kill A Watt) that will monitor your hardware’s energy consumption over a period of time. These units are limited to one device at a time. To obtain a larger data sample size in a short period of time, organizations can use the reporting features provided within PC Power management software solutions.

Faronics Power Save offers “audit mode” and be used to measure, verify, and monitor your organization’s computer energy consumption. It is based on what you define as your average watt consumption for your hardware and your organization’s cost of energy (cent/kWh). From this baseline measurement you will be able to turn on the “savings features” to determine the before and after values of your organization’s desktop energy consumption.

Does your computer talk in its sleep?

We almost tune it out these days–that quiet hum of a desktop computer in the cube next to us, or the one in the other room at home that you left downloading some files. We shouldn’t tune it out—because that hum is power being consumed. One study showed that 67% of desktop computers were left on when not being used—only 4% of which went to sleep.

Sleep mode allows a computer to stop consuming power without a complete shut down and restart. This mode is designed to save power when a computer is not being actively used—so why are so few computers making use of sleep? [Read more…]

If You Measure It, They Will Green

Data Center Energy Efficiency Metrics

A significant shift in data center economics is occurring, and threatens to overwhelm years of chip technology leaps. Data center energy costs are approaching 20% of the overall data center bill, and the purchase of a new server is often exceeded by the cost of power and cooling infrastructure to support that server. The data center power bill will continue to rise, and lifetime energy costs will soon exceed the cost of servers.

In August 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that U.S. enterprises spent $4.5 billion in 2006 on data center power bills. If current trends continue, this figure will rise to $7.4 billion in 2011. The projected load will require ten new power plants, while carbon emissions will rise 63%. Indeed, beyond the significant cost of energy, businesses and governments see this as a serious environmental issue. They recognize the need to increase power-consumption efficiency of data centers to reduce costs and environmental impact.

Download the full research note here

It explains three popular metrics: the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE), and Data Center Productivity (DCP) ratio.

Is There a Hidden Cost to Google Searching?

Internet search results have become a part of everyday life in many parts of the world, making it easy for users to access the wealth of information available online. Leading the pack is Google, and their innovation in online searching has made them a household name. Ask anyone how they find something online and the answer invariably is “Google it”. Yet, even with its ubiquitous usage, nobody has considered what the environmental implications of a Google search are. Until now.

US physicist Alex Wissner-Gross recently brought the carbon cost of Google searching into the limelight, claiming that two Google searches produce 14g of CO2 – the equivalent of boiling an electric kettle. While these results seem insignificant by themselves, their implication becomes daunting when multiplied with the number of Google queries completed each day: Over 235 million. [Read more…]