A Rallying Point

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2006-05-03 Print this article Print

The power issue has become a rallying point for the industry. On April 19, HP and a number of other vendors, including IBM, Sun Microsystems and Advanced Micro Devices formed the Green Grid Alliance, which is working to make corporate data centers more energy efficient.
At an event in New York on May 2, several other companies, including Dell, American Power Conversion and VMware, also joined the alliance.
Vendors also are trying to make their individual products more efficient, both through hardware designs and management software. Both HP and IBM have introduced liquid-cooling devices, and Suns UltraSPARC T1 chip offers up to eight cores in a 60-watt package. AMD and Intel also are working to make their processors more efficient. Perez said HP is working on several other fronts to make its systems more efficient. HP engineers are looking to use "pervasive sensing" capabilities to enable systems to dynamically speed up or down individual fans within the server, depending on the amount of heat in the area of the fans. At the same time, the company is looking to use the same capabilities within the data center, where the flow of coolant and fans in data center air-conditioning units can be dynamically managed depending on where the most heat is found. "Were doing this at the macro level in the data center and the micro level in the blade enclosures," Perez said. In addition, HP is looking to bring "dynamic capping" capabilities to its blade systems. In the current "static capping" scenario, users can put a cap on the amount of power a rack consumes—say 8 or 10 watts—and each server is capped at the same rate to reach that limit. With dynamic capping, individual blades can be powered up and down depending on the workloads in each, all within the rack power limit set by the user. HP also has proposed to the SPEC (Standard Performance Evaluation Corp.) standards group metrics that can be used to compare the power efficiency of systems. Power consumption is a growing concern among CIOs, but there is no standard way of measuring—and thus, comparing—the power consumption of different machines, unlike the automobile industry, where cars can be measured by the miles per gallon they can get. Read more here about measuring power consumption. In a metric submitted to the SPEC group, HP proposes a system where consumption is measured on a server at different utilization levels—at 20, 40, 60 and 100 percent—with the average at each level used as a benchmark. Perez said its a way of "rating different servers on the same workloads." He said he expects the proposal to go through a three-to-six-month review process before anything is finalized. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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