Is There a Correlation Between I/O and Power Supply?

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-12-04 Print this article Print

Is there a direct correlation between I/O and power supply?

If you are talking about servers, there can be. If you are talking about networks, the answer is no. The correlation depends upon where you have your box within the network. You will find that if you have a box at some point in the network and move that same box to another area, it will consume a different amount of energy.

It also has features and functions. Depending upon where it sits in the network, and understanding the network's configuration, this could impact those features and functions.

What we also have been doing is trying to provide the industry a good benchmark, so that you can begin to analyze networks based on a handicapping system. This handicapping system will allow you to determine the type of network you have, where within the network specific types of boxes are sitting, what features and functions are core, and which are ancillary. This will allow you to have a very strong ability to understand the energy throughput.

What new "green" products will Cisco be producing in the next year or so?

We have projects going on in all kinds of areas. The Nexus 7000 [network switch] is a very interesting machine. That switch allows you essentially to take multiple switches, condense them into one and then be able to use-in one physical box-various areas of the network.

From that aspect, it displaces a lot of other equipment. It uses front-to-back cooling, which is great for hot- and cold-aisle considerations in the data center; it uses variable-speed fans, which again aid in its energy consumption.

Let's jump over to telephones. What's happening here is that our customers are requiring more and more features on their [phone] systems, not less. Features do add cost to energy. So what are we doing here?

Newer phones coming out will be able to run scripts, which can save [battery] power. Let's say you leave your office at 6 p.m. Maybe at 8 p.m., you have your phone automatically shut itself down [using the command script]. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it can save 10 to 15 watts. But 10 to 15 watts, multiplied by millions of phones-that's lots and lots of power [that won't have to be drawn from the grid during a charge-up].

The power supplies that feed our Linksys [wireless Internet network] boxes were just certified by Energy Star [an arm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency]. Each device uses only 25 or 30 watts, and the new power supplies save 2 or 3 watts, but multiply that by the millions of units out there in the field, and you'll find a significant savings.

We're also taking a look at ASIC [printed circuit board] design. Virtually all IT devices have these in them. When you plug in such a device, it consumes 80 percent of its power, whether it's being used or not. When we're not using something, we should be able to control it from a power perspective, and that's a big project we're working on now.

We're now cooperating with some of the best research institutions in the country. What we will be doing is controlling the ASICs-actually shutting down portions of the board that are absolutely not necessary, conserving huge amounts of power.

Our early estimates are that we'll be able to save anywhere from 30 percent to 35 percent in energy savings. Imagine if we could do that worldwide.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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