The U.S. Senate is next in line to take up the issue of power consumption in data centers.
Mirroring what the House of Representatives did the week of July 10, the Senate on July 19 introduced a bill that would have the federal Environmental Protection Agency review the issues surrounding power consumption in data centers, assess the industrys response in making more energy-efficient systems and determine ways to encourage corporations to adopt such technology.
An almost identical bill passed the House 417-4 on July 12. If the Senate approves the measure, it will go before President Bush for his signature.
"This EPA analysis would help find ways to conserve the amount of energy consumed in two areas where energy use will skyrocket in the next few years," Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said in a prepared statement.
"This legislation has already been passed by overwhelming numbers in the House and it is essential in promoting energy efficient technology."
Bingaman co-sponsored the bill with Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and George Allen, R-Va.
The technology industry has seen its customers costs to power and cool their data centers skyrocket due to such factors as more powerful and more dense servers and processors, inefficient cooling systems and rising energy costs.
Vendors have begun taking steps to address the problem, with chip makers such as Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, IBM and Sun Microsystems creating processors that offer greater performance but consume less power.
Systems makers also are building energy-efficient features into their hardware and management software.
Legislators say that U.S. businesses now spend $3.3 billion to power their data centers, and they expect that number to grow. Allen said some large data centers use enough electricity in a day to power a small city like Petersburg, Va., with a population of 33,740.
The federal government already has begun addressing the issue. The EPA, through its Energy Star program, in April joined with Sun, AMD, Intel and Hewlett-Packard in creating the Green Grid Alliance, which is aiming to address the issue of data center power consumption.
Jim Jarrett, vice president of worldwide government affairs for Intel, in Santa Clara, Calif., said he supports the government getting involved in the issue.
"With growth in both the Internet and the computing power of servers, the need to encourage more energy efficient servers and data centers gets more important every day," Jarrett said.
"We look forward to working with the Environmental Protection Agency and other stakeholders as part of the study process to ensure that the effort is a success."