Green Computing

Having seen Graham’s note on Green computing…Green IT. He makes some interesting points on the issue of power rating and equipment location. I noticed the campaign in Computing which had this Green computing article.

Green Computing Other articles Energy-costs showed some quite staggering statistics:….

“But the real impact is financial. According to the Carbon Trust, the cost of running a PC left on all day will be about £37 a year. But if switched off at night and at weekends, this drops to nearer £10 a year and saves enough energy to make the equivalent of 34,900 cups of coffee. That is just one PC.”

“Office equipment is the fastest-growing area of energy use, accounting for up to 20 per cent of total output. And that does not even take into account the increasing cost of air conditioning, as more and more powerful processors are squeezed into ever-smaller spaces.”

“The cost of powering and cooling a server over four years will soon exceed the price of purchasing the hardware, according to Luiz Andre Barroso, Google platforms engineering group leader.”

“The average corporate data centre burns 80 barrels of oil per day, based on a 2 MW data that burns an equivalent of 3.3 barrels of oil per hour, according to Sun Microsystems.”

“Some 125,000 tonnes of IT equipment, including two million PCs, are decommissioned in the UK each year, says PC recycling charity Computer Aid International.” Catherine Doran, director of information management at Network Rail, says that when the organisation started monitoring usage, it quickly began to save energy and money. “We now continually monitor the environmental impact of all our activities and this year we have replaced 8,500 PC monitors with TFT screens, reducing energy consumption by two-thirds”, she said.

As Graham mentioned, I wonder when a power cost will be a cost factor in the implementation of a IT driven project. Certainly this should be applied to desktop roll-outs, and printer provisions. However, I think it will become a factor of servers implementations as well; especially when sizing up an infrastructure, beside traditional metrics like:

  • # of CPUs
  • RAM
  • Storage
  • Rack Space

I think the following should also become a standard metric

  • KWH/Year

It is a standard metric in purchasing any domestic electrical device, we are all familiar with the Energy Rating Standard “A-G”, and most good specifications will also list the average annual consumption – why doesn’t this come on computing hardware? I think many people are beginining to imagine the impact of an eco-friendly strategy within the IT community such as:-

  • Making Power rating a part of IT project from the outset, will help set the context for the lifecycle of the hardware and may be bring a more rigourous kit decomission and re-cycling policy; as the business case for a lower energy footprint becomes more compelling.
  • More emphasis should be placed on power down cycles for unused devices, or need based power supplies – Mobile solution devices especially – powered on mobile chargers with no connected mobile is a real bug bear of mine! Having printing devices use double sided printing as default, and consumer awareness raised on the requirement for printing at all. A method of intelligently powering down devices and subsequent power enablement in and out of office hours would be useful.
  • Hardware manufacturers should begin to advertise on business case for their kit because of lower power consumption; and perhaps we will asking whether kit enhancement or new kit will deliver the lower energy footprint.
  • Hardware and software integration to reduce power consumption in response to reduced load or during non-critical hours would be a real step in the right direction!

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