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IT Bolstered by U.S. Energy-Efficiency Agenda

EmersondatacenterInformation technology departments are focused on greater energy efficiency and using more renewable energy sources now more than ever as the Obama Administration pushes its energy-efficiency agenda, while high-tech companies like Samsung and Microsoft are driving home the message to boost the adoption of environmentally friendly PCs by consumers.

Companies like Yahoo are looking to use less power and to buy more of their energy from renewable sources such as hydro, wind and solar power, which also means building or leasing data centers in locations where utility providers offer renewables, reports Data Center Knowledge.

Yahoo and VMware, for example, have built data centers in central Washington, where the local utility power is almost exclusively hydro power, reports Data Knowledge Center.

Other companies like i/o Data Centers, AISO and Emerson Network Power are integrating solar power into their new data centers, but the price and scalability of renewable power presents challenges to data center operators, according to the article.

Panelists at a recent Data Center Energy Efficiency Summit hosted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), indicate that carbon emissions regulation will likely introduce new financial considerations around renewable energy, and support the existing focus on data center efficiency, reports Data Center Knowledge.

There is evidence that efforts to improve the energy efficiency of data centers are extending beyond the largest providers, according to the article, citing data center trade group AFCOM’s findings that 71 percent of its members are pursuing energy-efficiency projects.

High-tech companies like Samsung Electronics and Microsoft are helping to pave the way through a collaboration aimed at efficient energy usage in computers. The two companies are working together to encourage PC users to purchase more environmentally friendly PC systems.

Samsung expects substantial energy savings when Microsoft’s flagship Windows 7 operating system and Samsung’s 40 nanometer (nm) class DDR3 DRAM are used together. Samsung, a strong supporter of Windows 7, will be migrating all of its corporate PCs worldwide to the new operating system beginning in 2010.

Samsung initiated its own global marketing campaign in September centered around “Less Energy, More Speed”, initially focused on its energy-efficient, 40 nm-class, 2-Gb DDR3 DRAM, while Microsoft touts significant reductions in power consumption with the new power management function in its recently released Windows 7 operating system.

Meanwhile, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed a novel computing scheme that claims to cut energy cost in half by using a system of slower processors instead of one fast processor that can do the work in about the same time, using less energy, reports Energy Efficiency and Technology (EET). The downside: it’s a bit intensive for the programmers, says EET.

The CMU scheme, called Fast Array of Wimpy Nodes by researchers, is a parallel computing idea that relies on programmers to decide how different low-power processors with local Flash storage are responsible for what sections of information, reports EET. Click here (PDF) for the paper on the researchers work.

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One thought on “IT Bolstered by U.S. Energy-Efficiency Agenda

  1. Copehnagen is a mere 33 days away and while everyone is looking at the road to the summit (perhaps front of mind is whether or not the US senate climate bill will be passed before Copenhagen despite the current Republican boycott), here at 1E, we are in agreement that what is perhaps more pertinent is the road from Copenhagen – so, the road that leads us to COP16 in Mexico. COP15 will last a fortnight and we must be realistic about what we hope it will achieve. At worst, nothing will happen. At best, we will have a starting point; a set of aspirations or ‘opt in’ suggested guidelines to follow.
    What we, as an IT industry, won’t have are regulations, legislation or metrics…and that’s precisely what we need. Take for example the data center – in particular, a single server. With no clear directives coming from UK government on green datacenter strategies, the EPA still finalizing its Energy Star for Servers ratings and the EU Data Center Code of Conduct still being a voluntary ‘opt in’ set of guidelines a year since its unveiling, it seems that organizations are lacking the direction that they are looking for in terms of green IT strategy and the road to low carbon business.

    What’s true is that COP15 is not a panacea. The wider issue of climate change (and IT’s involvement in addressing this) needs more than a ‘silver bullet’ solution and COP15 is not it. What we must remember is that the summit is, over and above anything else, a political meeting. The best we can hope is that this meeting of political minds gives us i) a set of common standards, ii) agreement from the developed world in terms of how much funding it will invest in helping the developing world cut emissions and tackle climate change and iii) re-assessment by the United States (responsible for 36.1% of the 1990 emission levels) of its current non membership of the Kyoto Protocol. Only then will we be able to lobby our respective governments to drive regulations, pass legislations and accelerate the rollout of clean technologies.

    So is IT a More Likely Agenda Item for COP16 in Mexico? We hope not. We have to wait and see

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