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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
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

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?