Panelists: Moore's Law meltdown fueling efficiency

Data center designers, operators not taking full advantage of today’s technology, vendors say

It's a popular theory that energy inefficiency in data centers is causing an economic meltdown of Moore's Law. The dramatic increase in computational performance of processors and servers is not being matched by a corresponding rise in energy efficiency, Bruce Taylor of the Uptime Institute consulting group said Tuesday.

"There is an awful lot we don't know yet. We're still at the beginning of looking at this problem," Taylor, the Uptime Institute's chief strategist, said during a panel discussion in Boston involving HP", AMD and EMC. "Moore's Law is alive and well at the level of the server and the level of the chip. Where it breaks down is when you look at it from a whole system level."

Technology vendors on the panel said they are finding it a challenge to build systems efficient enough to meet storage needs, which are increasing more than 50 percent a year. But they said data center designers and operators often fail to take advantage of existing technology and design principles that could greatly reduce power consumption.

The average data center probably uses three times more air conditioning and cooling than is needed, Taylor said. Not only do operators keep temperatures too low, designers worried about aesthetics often fail to use efficient layouts such as the hot aisle/cold aisle method, he said.

"Most data center designers do not look at the facility using the right metrics," said Ken Baker, an infrastructure technologist at HP. "It's a thermodynamic workflow problem. If you address it that way and do the math, it will drive you to these improvements right away."

Automation control systems for cooling, combined with other best practices can easily make data centers 50 percent more efficient, Baker said.

"The best practices, in many cases, already exist," said Dick Sullivan, director of enterprise solutions marketing at EMC. "I don't have a lot of sympathy

for those people who just discovered they ran out of power when the new DMX storage arrives on the dock. They obviously haven't been paying attention up to that point."

Only 10 percent of users are turning on power management systems that power computers down when idle, said Brent Kerby, an AMD product marketing manager.

IT departments can save both energy and money by consolidating systems that have small drives into systems with larger drives, and by using server virtualization, panelists said.

AMD is building virtualization capabilities into processors to reduce the software overhead and, hopefully, make virtualization more acceptable to network executives, Kerby said. Intel, which was not represented on the panel, is doing the same with its own processors.

Baker cautioned observers to have patience with IT shops, who might undergo a lengthy and costly systems overhaul, only to see a vendor come out with an even better technology the next day.

"It takes forever for (new processors) to be adopted," said AMD processor designer Samuel Naffzinger. "There's expensive infrastructure overhauls that go along with it."

Ignoring the need for efficiency will cause the industry no small amount of financial pain, and create a storage problem that will not be easily fixed, Baker said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to take action. The agency this month issued a report to Congress recommending federal leadership, standardized performance measurement for data centers, and possible Energy Star efficiency rules for data center products.

Some companies are coming up with innovative ways to force departments to be more efficient. Some financial firms, for example, require departments to use virtualization, and apply fiscal penalties to those that don't, said John Tuccillo, marketing director of American Power Conversion.

The data center energy problem must be looked at holistically, panelists agreed. Competitors are coming together to find solutions in collaborative organizations such as the Green Grid, said Baker, who is a member of the group, a consortium of IT companies and professionals seeking to lower the overall consumption of power in data centers.

Education might be the most important solution, though.

"Education and awareness is probably the most important thing we should all be doing today," Sullivan said. "A lot of the technologies that exist can help you save energy. You need to know what they are, you need to know how to deploy them."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?