Friday, 22 May 2009

Energy Star server specification

Energy Star, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating for energy use, has released the specification for computer servers. It came into effect at the start of this week and the first qualifying products are expected to be listed on the site shortly. Details are here.

The ratings relate to a range of energy-saving requirements. The efficiency of the power supply and the power consumed when the server is idle are major aspects, but the specification also includes the means to provide real time information on power use and other factors that help manage the power the server uses.

Servers with up to four processors and at least one hard drive are included. There is some concern, though, around servers shipped through the channel without drives that are configured (or reconfigured) by the channel, so purchasers are urged to check the configuration matches that associated with the rating.

The EPA maintains that servers that qualify will be 30% more efficient than those that don't and expects 25% of current servers shipped will qualify for the logo.

It has come in for some criticism because of the focus on idle time and also for the fact that blade servers are not included, which is often a route to a greener data centre. The EPA says this is the first attempt at a rating and there is apparently a further, tier 2, specification to cover servers in use, due next January. Blade servers may also be included within a couple of months.

Energy Star is also working on a rating for storage equipment and network hardware is likely to be covered at some point.

Obviously highly commendable, the problem is that it does just focus on individual pieces of equipment and does not differentiate between solutions, e.g. the use of blades. At this stage it reflects a stand-alone server market approach, whereas most are in large scale commercial environments. Still, there's lots of other activity in this area which I'll comment on shortly.

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