Over the past months, you have likely heard about the challenges that data centers in the U.S. and world wide are facing. Energy costs - typically around 10% of an IT budget-could account for 50% of the average IT budget in just a few years.1 59% of ITs cite power and cooling as a growth limiter. 2 While those challenges may seem daunting, Intel sees many opportunities to improve energy efficiency in nearly every aspect of data center operation that consumes power.
Intel's recently announced Harpertown processors, based on 45nm technology, go a long way toward helping address the issues data centers are facing. Because they deliver up to 2X the performance-per-watt of prior Intel® Dual-Core processors in the same power envelope in the same socket, Intel Xeon® processor 5400 series enables a data center to double its compute capacity or maintain its current compute capacity using half the number of servers. Either way, the energy efficient performance improvements that are delivered are quite impressive.
What is often lost in the discussion of processor power and performance is the fact that they are small but important part of a larger data center system. This system is comprised of the IT equipment (servers, networking, and storage) as well as non-IT support equipment (power delivery, cooling and air handling, and other environmental controls). By looking at the data center holistically, IT organizations can better manage increased compute demands, lower their energy costs and reduce total cost of ownership.
The IT industry, driven by the work of groups such as The Green Grid, is developing a series of metrics to assess data center efficiency as the ratio of useful work output divided by total power consumed by the entire facility3. This holistic view of where the energy is being used has identified large energy efficiency gains in the operational practices of getting power to the IT equipment, where in many cases as little as 50% of the energy is going to the IT equipment.
There are number of approaches to increase data center efficiency based on this holistic view, and they vary widely in terms of investment required and energy savings. In addition to our energy efficient processors and systems, Intel is working collaboratively with industry partners and government organizations to accelerate development and adoption of technologies, products and best practices that can improve data center operations. Examples of options to consider include:
Purchasing higher efficiency power supplies and mother board components
Installing higher efficiency Uninterruptible Power Supplies and other power conversion equipment
Monitoring energy consumption and environmental conditions to develop operational energy policies
Employing Virtualization to increase utilization and consolidate servers in ratios up to 30:1
Use of hot & cold aisle layouts and floor vent tiles to prevent hot air from mixing with cold air
For a more detailed list of ways to increase the efficiency of your data center, click here
How well do you understand the total energy consumption and efficiency of your IT facility? It's likely that there are a number of ways that you can improve your operations to handle the increasing rack densities and growing demand for compute capacity - and make the CFO happy because the power bill goes down as well...
1. Source: Gartner, May 2007
2. Intel DC Users Group 06
3. The Green Grid Data Center Power Efficiency Metric. http://www.thegreengrid.org/gg_content/TGG_Data_Center_Power_Efficiency_Metrics_PUE_and_DCiE.pdf