Sun Microsystems Inc. is looking to make its SWaP metric a cornerstone of its eco-friendly technology campaign, which is being driven by the companys new UltraSPARC T1-based systems.
The Sun-developed Space, Watts and Performance metric is a way of evaluating a data centers efficiency. The key differentiator from other measuring tools is the introduction of data center real estate as part of the equation, according to officials of the Santa Clara, Calif., company.
Power efficiency was a key driver behind the development of the UltraSPARC T1, formerly code-named Niagara. The chip offers up to eight cores, each of which can process as many as four instruction threads simultaneously, but it offers a power envelope of about 70 watts, less than that of processors from such competitors as Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. The first systems running the UltraSPARC T1, the Sun Fire T1000 and T2000, were unveiled last month amid statements from Sun executives regarding the need for technology that not only helps businesses reduce costs but also does less harm to the environment.
Using Suns equation, the data centers efficiency is determined by multiplying space and power consumption and then dividing the performance factor by that number. The SWaP metric can be calculated on Suns Web site, and the company hopes other vendors also will adopt it.
"Its the amount of throughput I can get from a certain amount of space—density, if you will—with the amount of power that I have," said Fadi Azhari, director of outbound marketing for Suns Scalable Systems Group. "This is going to be more and more of a problem for customers because more and more people are being added to the network."
Some industry analysts tout the new metric in reports, saying adding the space factor makes sense for businesses feeling the data center real estate squeeze. However, Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata Inc., said he is skeptical, given how different space concerns are from one business to another.
"The introduction of power efficiencies clearly makes a lot of sense for scale-out systems," said Haff in Nashua, N.H. "Theres always going to be a cost associated with power. [But] if you have an empty floor, space is not an issue. Its not that space doesnt have a cost associated with it, but its more of a lumpy cost."