HPE Aims to Make Its Products 30 Times More Energy-Efficient by 2025

Company officials point to HPE's low-power Moonshot server modules has examples of how systems can be made to consume less power.

HPE Moonshot

Hewlett Packard Enterprise wants to make its product portfolio 30 times more energy-efficient within the next 10 years.

Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager of the tech vendor's Enterprise Group, announced the goal this week at the Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit in New York City, outlining how that would not only significantly decrease the power consumption and carbon emission from the company's various products—from servers to networking gear to storage appliances—but also drive down the capital and operational costs for customers.

"This is significant because we know that the use of our products represents the largest share (54%) of our carbon footprint," Lara Birkes, HPE's chief sustainability officer and vice president of the company's Living Progress effort, wrote in a post on the company blog. "What's more, the majority of that footprint—mostly related to carbon and water from energy consumption—gets transferred to our customers during the use phase of our products. So one of the most significant impacts we can have toward reducing both our footprint, and the footprints of our customers, is by optimizing the energy performance of our products."

The cost of powering and cooling data centers is increasingly challenging organizations' IT budgets, as the demand for compute resources continues to grow. Data centers also have become a significant consumer of power in the United States and in other parts of the world. IT vendors are increasingly looking to drive up the power efficiency of their products as businesses look for ways to save on their energy costs. Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices in 2014 announced its intention to improve the power efficiency of its processors by a factor of 25 by 2020, and company officials have said AMD is on track to meet that goal.

Now HPE is planning to make their products 30 times more efficient by 2025.

Such efforts at greater efficiency are making a difference, according to a study released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) earlier this year. Data centers in the country consumed about 70 billion kilowatt-hours (KWh) of electricity in 2014—about the amount consumed by 6.4 million U.S. homes—or about 2 percent of the United States' total energy consumption. Between 2010 and 2014, power consumption by data centers increased 4 percent.

However, during the previous five years, data center power consumption in the country increased 24 percent, the DoE study found. Without the work to improve power efficiency, data centers would have used almost 40 billion KWh more in 2014, while doing the same amount of work.

Improving both performance and power efficiency is helping to drive HPE's effort, according to Birkes. Over the past decade, the tech vendor has pushed to make their systems more efficient, and in the last five years, HPE has reduced the amount of energy used by its high-volume servers and carbon emissions per unit of performance by 68 percent, she wrote. As that work continues, "our biggest gains will come from increasing our products," Birkes wrote, pointing to HPE's low-power Moonshot server nodes (pictured) as examples. The systems, which use energy-efficient components—such as low-power chips from Intel, AMD and ARM—were introduced in 2013 and are aimed at such workloads as big data and cloud. Birkes cited a study by CDP that indicated that the Moonshot systems deliver both environmental and financial savings.

She also noted the continuing shift toward energy-optimized servers, which are expected to grow from 2 percent of the market last year to 11 percent by 2019, which would save almost 40 terawatts of power and more than 30 million tons of carbon emissions. In addition, if the trend unfolds as expected, the customers will save up to $3.8 billion in energy costs, and the total economic impact on the environment would be reduced by as much as $6 billion, according to the study.

CDP also found that if all traditional servers were replaced by energy-optimized servers, the savings over five years would be 120 terawatts of electricity, $12 billion in internal power savings and a $20 billion total economic impact.

"A radical transformation of product innovations and, just as importantly, customer demand for those innovations is real and happening today," Birkes wrote. "Clearly, the scale is tipping in favor of sustainable innovation. Customers and investors are demanding it. Companies have only one clear choice—innovate for a low-carbon economy or get locked out."