How Green is IT's Future?
Future?"> The EPA commended the technology industry for already taking strides in trying to make data centers more energy efficient. Chip makers such as Advanced Micro Devices, Intel and Sun Microsystems are using methods to increase the performance of their processors without ramping up the power consumption. At the same time, systems vendors are also using a mixture of hardware components and software to make their servers and computing devices more energy-efficient.Panelists in a discussion on green data centers here Aug. 1 were asked whether they thought the future might bring data centers that no longer need cooling equipment, thus cutting back substantially on power draw. The answer across the board was "yes." Officials from IBM, HP and Sun said their companies are already doing research and testing in this area and are beginning to come out with no-cooling-necessary components, if not full data centers. Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., might be the closest to having a self-sustained, no-outside-cooling-necessary data center. "Weve already got a version of this self-contained data center in our Blackbox," said Subodh Bapat, vice president and distinguished engineer in Suns Eco-Responsibility Office. "All you need is a concrete floor, a chilled water source and a power draw, and you have a portable data center that can be dropped in just about anywhere." In October, Sun unveiled Project Blackbox, which combines storage, computing, and network infrastructure hardware and software-along with high-efficiency power and liquid cooling-into modular units based on standard 20-by-8-by-8-foot shipping containers. Each Blackbox holds up to 250 Sun Fire blade servers and provides up to 1.5 petabytes of disk storage, 2 petabytes of tape storage and 7 terabytes of RAM. The Blackbox itself needs no air cooling. In March, Rackable System unveiled its own mobile data center, code-named Concentro, which is a 40-by-8-foot data center that can hold up to 1,200 of company's rack-mount servers. Well see "huge leaps forward" over the next few years when it comes to the no-cooling-needed data centers, Bapat said. "We're already on that track now, and we're only going to continue to discover more ways to improve systems-through lower-power processors, better design and other components," he said. Mike Rigodanzo, HPs senior vice president for technology services, said his company is leading the charge for better-tuned data centers-installations that use optimal designs for airflow and air conditioning unit location, for example. "Big [data center] rooms are not homogeneous," Rigodanzo said. "Each one has its own airflow and design challenges, so services are needed to set up the center right the first time. Designing the center properly in the first place is essential to an efficient operation." New software that monitors the power draw across the data center and then calibrates it with the work load at hand on a dynamic basis will soon become available, Suns Bapat said. That will become a major power-saving factor, he said. IBMs Sams said he agreed that there are strides being made but said more could be done now. He said that people in general are "pretty abysmal at predicting improvements in IT." "Some day we'll look back and see that we could have improved a lot of things far earlier than we actually did," Sams said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
Read here about Googles efforts to go green.