We employ a number of criterion (like number of sockets, processing power, memory capacity, etc.) to select the most appropriate servers for our data centers. But, does energy efficiency figure among those?
Should it? Of course it should. In most cases, electricity costs incurred by running a server might be more than the cost of the server itself! According to the EPA report: In 2011, data centers accounted for 3% of all the electricity consumption in US (mostly due to the servers employed in them). Each server can consume up to 8600 kWh of energy, annually.
Those are big numbers and obviously translate into big costs, especially for a data center with a large number of servers. More so, if all these servers are not energy-efficient.
Servers may have (among others) EPA Energy Star ratings that help you to identify energy-efficient servers from others. According to the Energy Star site, servers that have obtained energy star certification are 30% more efficient and save a lot of running costs (up to $500 USD per server, over 5 years) when compared with servers that haven’t.
SPEC (Standard Performance Evaluation Corp) has come up with a revised version of Server Efficiency Rating Tool (SPEC), which is used by EPA to award Energy Star ratings. More information about SERT tool and ratings can be found here.
The message for server manufacturers is: Improve your server’s energy-efficiency and get your servers, Energy Star certified. This certification is mandatory for Govt. purchases in the US and perhaps in other countries too, soon. For customers/data center managers: Please consider the energy-efficiency ratings and certifications like Energy Star for Servers, before purchasing your servers.
Different type of workloads/applications may show different power-consumption levels/patterns, depending on the server. Some servers are energy-optimized for high CPU/processing oriented applications but others are energy-optimized for storage/idle state.
Considering the energy-efficiency parameter of the servers (and buying the most energy-efficient servers according to your application) can save a considerable amount of running costs, over their life-time. Needless to say, by selecting the most energy-efficient servers, your organization’s carbon footprint is also reduced.
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