Sun, Power Company to Offer Rebates

Sun Microsystems and a major California power supplier, Pacific Gas & Electric, announced Aug. 15 an unusual joint incentive program that will give $700 to $1,000 per-unit rebates to Sun server customers for deploying newer machines that consume less electrical power.

The Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 CoolThreads servers—which Sun claims are three to five times more energy-efficient than competing systems—were the only servers to qualify for the rebate program, a Sun spokesperson said.

As part of PG&Es new Non-Residential Retrofit program, customers replacing existing equipment with these eco-responsible servers can receive cash savings of between $700 and $1,000 per server or up to 35 percent off with the Sun Upgrade Advantage Program.

The base version of each server costs about $4,000.

This is the first-ever incentive rebate offered by a public utility company for servers, David Douglas, Sun vice president for eco-responsibility, told eWeek.

"The numbers Ive seen from Gartner [Group] tell us that more than two-thirds of all businesses are either at their limits in terms of cooling ability and/or power consumption," Douglas said.

Joyent, in Marin County, Calif.—which offers Web-based software that provides small teams with e-mail, calendars, contacts and shared applications—was one of the test subjects.

"We had a third-party team come in and evaluate all of our electrical usage at our co-location space," Joyent CEO David Young told eWeek.

"Everything from servers to air conditioning to lighting was charted. We just started using the T1000 and T2000 Sun servers last April; when they broke out the power usage figures for the first four we installed, we found that we got a one-time $1,200 rebate for each server, based on its power consumption—or lack of it," Young said. "We also found that were saving just about $1,000 per server/year in power costs."

But its not just about cost savings, Young said.

"Its more about using all the computing power you have," he said. "Before, we couldnt use all our rack space, because we were at our allowable power limit. You cant fill your rack if you use too much power. Now we can actually fill our racks and use less power—it works out to something like four times the computing power at one-quarter the cost."

The Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers are based on the UltraSPARC T1 processor with CoolThreads technology.

"Were hoping that this rebate program, which is the first we know of, will start a trend with other power companies," Douglas said.

As far back as 2004, a Gartner poll reported that more than 80 percent of data centers were power-, cooling- or space- constrained and that 40 percent or more of CIOs planned on upgrading power and HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) systems over the next three years.

PG&E is one of the largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. The company serves approximately 15 million people in northern and central California.

PG&E business customers interested in learning more about the rebate program can visit

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...