SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Several companies, including Intel and AMD,
put aside their competitive inclinations to attend a meeting at AMD’s corporate campus here, to develop strategies that could lead to more energy efficiency in datacenters and servers.
This is easier said than
done in a group of often cutthroat competitors, which included AT&T
, HP Labs
, SGI and
Andy Karsner, the U.S. Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy (EERE), said the DOE has a legal
obligation to help enhance technology efficiency and make the United States
a more competitive nation.
The government also has a “moral obligation,” he added, to push tech
companies beyond bottom-line considerations and look at the energy security
needs of the nation. “High tech is an absolute juggernaut,” when it comes to power consumption, said Karsner.
David Rogers, acting deputy assistant secretary of EERE, said attendees identified several different areas of the datacenter that
could be improved, including power delivery and optimization.
“We have to start looking at the datacenter as a whole system,” Rogers
told internetnews.com. “For example, the guys ordering the air
conditioning don’t always know the conditions it will be used in, the peak
and idle times. So you end up with more cooling than you need.”
Asked what some of the more contentious issues were in the private
discussion, several participants said it was how you establish benchmarks
for efficiency. But Karsner said something such as the Energy Star program,
where equipment is certified by the EPA as meeting certain low power
consumption standards, could be helpful in making datacenters more
“Standards help us all compete better,” said Paul Perez, vice-president, storage, networks & infrastructure for industry standard servers at HP.
Several of the tech companies in attendance seemed to agree on
establishing higher standards to reach at least 90 percent efficiency for power
Jonathan Koomey, a consulting professor and staff scientist at the
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, said energy consumption is not a crisis, but that some companies are facing serious constraints. “If your datacenter is in
New York City for example, you have a power and space constraint,” he
“The fact that customers are screaming means there will be action.”
Karsner asked if there was a need for a Web portal that would include
information on industry best practices and other strategies. Several in the
audience mentioned The Green Grid, an organization established earlier this year by AMD, HP, Sun, IBM and others, to do just that.
Karsner was unfamiliar with The Green Grid, but several in the audience
agreed it would be a good place to start. The organization is still in the
process of establishing itself as a non-profit entity. AMD officials said
there will be news about new members and other developments in the near
Karsner noted that “The federal government is not exclusive, so we would
not exclude anyone who doesn’t want to be in the Green Grid.”
Kris Singh, director of strategic platform technology programs at AMD,
said the issue of power consumption is fast becoming a global concern:
“Today, less than a billion people have access to computers. How do we
support the next 5 billion?”