With the rise of Facebook, iPhones, and gChat comes a slew of power hungry servers. A report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs asked the question: “Just how much power do all these servers consume?”
Total power used by servers represented about 0.6% of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2005. When cooling and auxiliary infrastructure are included, that number grows to 1.2%, an amount comparable to that for color televisions. The total power demand in 2005 (including associated infrastructure) is equivalent (in capacity terms) to about five 1000 MW power plants for the U.S. and 14 such plants for the world. The total electricity bill for operating those servers and associated infrastructure in 2005 was about $2.7 B and $7.2 B for the U.S. and the world, respectively.
-J.G. Koomey, 2007
That’s a lot of power, and you can be sure that energy demand hasn’t gotten smaller in the last two years.
Enter Energy Star, a collaboration between the EPA and DOE that offers consumers a third-party look into just how much energy their appliances, products and homes consume. Their office equipment and computer ratings have now expanded to the machines behind the machines, which will help data centers manage the life cycle costs of the servers they buy.
But the program is not without its critics. While a step in the right direction, it appears the Energy Star metrics are misplaced – server ratings are based on power consumption while the machine is idling, not mid data-crunch. Ten years ago, that may have been a sensible measurement, since server load was often less than 10% of capacity, on average. With the advent of virtualization, thin clients, and “cloud computing” technologies, usage can push past 90%. Still, better to know how much energy the machine uses on idle, than to know nothing at all.
This Energy Star category is sure to receive further attention, so keep your eyes on their website. In the meantime, check out their spreadsheet tools that allow you to calculate the energy and money saved by using Energy Star rated computers, and setting them up for standby and hibernate. For some companies, a standby policy can save in excess of $1,000,000 and 15,000 tons of CO2 every year!