Friday, January 7, 2011

Sensing the Future of Greener Data Centers

A 2007 Congressional report estimated that, in 2006 alone, data centers consumed about 61 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity combined. That’s 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption for a tab of $4.5 billion and growing. The problem is worrying enough that the U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded $47 million in grants for data center efficiency research. Cost and carbon footprint are critical concerns, but they aren’t the only issues at play, says Kathy Yelick, associate laboratory director for the computing sciences directorate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Performance is suffering, too. “The heat, even at the chip level, is limiting processor performance,” says Yelick. “So, even from the innards of a computer system, we are worried about energy efficiency and getting the most computing with the least energy.” More>