A month after the Environmental Protection Agency issued Energy Star guidelines for servers, Dell is unveiling two system platforms that meet the federal criteria.
Dell officials are announcing June 25 that the PowerEdge 610 and 710 server lines qualify for the new EPA Energy Star specification, which the federal agency put into effect May 15.
Daniel Bounds, director of enterprise solutions in power and cooling for Dell, said the vendor was the first to offer entire platforms that meet the criteria and qualify to carry the Energy Star logo.
The EPA has applied Energy Star standards to a wide range of products, from PCs to televisions to refrigerators, letting customers know which products meet the necessary energy efficiency and environmental friendliness specifications set by the agency.
For more than two years, the EPA worked with IT vendors-including Dell-to develop guidelines for servers. Over the past decade, servers have grown smaller and more powerful-thanks in large part to the rise of multicore processors-and data centers have become more dense, which has led to spiraling power and cooling costs in the facilities.
The federal government has said that data centers in recent years have accounted for as much as 1.5 percent of the energy consumed in the United States, and regulators started to look for ways to convince IT vendors to start reducing the environmental impact and power consumption.
Businesses besieged by the rising power and cooling costs also have put pressure on the vendors. Chip makers and OEMs alike have worked over the past several years to introduce features to reduce the power consumed and heat generated by the hardware. Software makers also are looking for ways to help.
Dell's Bounds said that resulting specifications for PCs and displays have helped, but that it has taken a while to create the right standards for servers.
"The dynamics we have to deal with in the data center with servers are a lot more complex than what we face in the consumer space," he said.
Bounds said the EPA also is working Energy Star specifications for storage hardware and data center infrastructure devices.
Dell two years ago had introduced its own program called Energy Smart, which was designed to help businesses get the best performance-per-watt ratio from their PowerEdge servers. The Energy Smart program includes such features as Dell's Active Power Controller to help businesses find the best balance between performance and power consumption.
Other features include Energy Smart power supplies, Energy Smart system design around aspects such as better venting and airflow and more efficient fan technology, and the use of more efficient memory and processors, including Intel's new quad-core Xeon 5500 Series "Nehalem EP" chips.
Both the 1U (1.75-inch) R610 and 2U (3.5-inch) R710 rack servers are two-socket systems that are powered by the Nehalem EP chips.
Dell's Energy Smart initiative was "the catalyst" for the company's push to meet the EPA's Energy Star specification, Bounds said. The EPA server specification requires servers to meet three primary criteria: accurate power-supply management capabilities, virtualization functionality-the Dell servers can support virtualization technology from VMware, Citrix Systems and Microsoft-and benchmarks and standards for measuring and reporting energy use.
Dell offers an online power calculator for both legacy products and the newer Nehalem-based systems.
Bounds said the federal regulators also looked at the requirements around the power consumption of systems when they are idle.
Servers with the Energy Star will be about 30 percent more energy efficient than standard servers, according to the agency.
Bounds said Dell's two-socket rack-mount servers fit well into the Energy Star specification. Dell will address blade servers and four-socket systems next, he said. The EPA is still working on Energy Star specifications for blades and four-socket servers and is expected to issue the standards in October 2010. Bounds said Dell's systems in those categories also will meet the EPA specifications.