EPA Targets the Yeoman Server First for Energy Star

Servers and server support consume 1.2 percent of all electricity, a number that is expected to double by 2011.

DALLAS—Volume servers, those commodity machines most enterprises have running somewhere in their IT systems, are the low-hanging fruit that the EPAs Energy Star server program is targeting first in its quest to bring more energy efficiency to the data center.

Andrew Fanara, director of the Energy Star Product Specifications Development Team, told a capacity audience of about 850 attendees at AFCOM Data Center World here at the Gaylord Texan hotel Sept. 17 that open-systems volume servers "are probably the least efficient in terms of power consumption, and are the easiest to convert or replace than other servers."

Those inefficient and prolific servers are in large part responsible for the stunning fact that servers and supporting infrastructure represent 1.2 percent of all electricity used in the U.S., a figure which has doubled from 2000-2005 and expected to double again by 2011, Fanara said.

"Over the next five years, power failures and supply limitations will halt operations at some point in 90 percent of all data center operations. By next year, half of all data centers will have insufficient power supplies, which means we need to move quickly on this."

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To read about the EPAs efforts to give a tax break to companies with energy efficient IT practices, click here.

The EPA is in the process of developing Energy Star standards and certifications for various IT products, similar to existing Environmental Protection Agency programs for household appliances—starting first with servers. The Energy Star division filed a report to the EPA and Congress last month that challenged the vendors to focus on building only low-power servers, which be classified an Energy Star machine. It also outlined existing and emerging opportunities for energy efficiency, voluntary programs to promote energy-efficient servers and data centers and demands the federal government to lead by example to achieve energy conservation goals.

Fanara said hes been talking to "virtually all" of the major server makers and says they are all on board with the EPA as far as improving future versions of the products to make them more energy efficient.

Fanara said that the lack of realistic federal power efficiency and best-practice guidelines are a current barrier for server makers and enterprises that use them, both of which agree saving power is good for business and the environment.

Climbing power and cooling costs are becoming alarming issues for companies trying to rein in data center expenses. A number of companies, including Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Advanced Micro Devices and Intel, as well as lesser-known ones such as Pillar Data Systems, BlueArc and Rackable Systems, have been proactive in building servers or processors that use energy much more efficiently.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...