Group Aims to Make the Data Center Greener

Green Grid alliance seeks to raise awareness among businesses about computer power consumption with the end goal of fostering more power-efficient data centers.

Four computer industry heavyweights are joining an alliance designed to help cut the use of one of the computer industrys most precious resources: Electricity.

Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices, computer makers IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington D.C.-based Alliance to Save Energy on April 19, all announced plans to participate in the newly-formed Green Grid Alliance.

The alliance, which arises at a time when electricity consumption is a growing concern among many businesses, aims to involve a wide range of individuals (senior IT managers and CIOs) and companies (power companies) in addressing power from a number of angles.

It will address data center power consumption and cooling, first, by looking at data center design and server deployment as well as fostering more energy-efficient computers and networking and storage gear.

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It will also work to promote metrics to measure power consumption in the interest of giving companies better tools with which to plan for things like rolling out new servers.

"One of the big things that the consortium will focus on is looking at ways to figure out how to measure these things, whether it is performance per watt or power per rack," said Kevin Knox, vice president of AMDs commercial business, worldwide, in Austin, Texas.

Companies in metropolitan areas such as Boston, New York, Tokyo and London are all generally concerned about securing enough space as well as enough electricity and cooling capacity for their data centers.

But not all of them try to optimize their power consumption, even though the effort would help to lower their electrical and cooling requirements and allow them to fit more computers into their existing spaces, Knox said.

To be sure, many do, Knox said. But "We think there are a lot of other organizations that dont really pay attention."

Thus the Green Grids first goal is to raise awareness about data center power, he said. Work on efforts to create power measurements and influence product designs is likely to come later.

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Although the chipmaker has been working to rally others to address concerns about things like server power consumption, Green Grid is not AMDs club, Knox said.

AMD aims to be a participant along with the others, he said.

Green Grid is likely to align with other like-minded groups, such as one—known loosely as the Eco Form—which has been working on universal server power consumption measurements.

Representatives from AMD, Google, Intel, Microsoft and Sun as well as the U.S. governments EnergyStar program are involved in that effort, which also recently got off the ground.

"Hopefully, in the end, [Green Grid] reduces the requirements for power in the data center," Knox said.

The Green Grid Alliance will hold its first meeting in June.

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