Energy woes could change the server environment

Energy woes could change the server environment

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

MAY 7'Last week's presidential order that agencies located in California must cut peak-hour electricity consumption by 10 percent could speed the adoption of energy-efficient servers.

Chipmaker Intel Corp. pioneered low-energy microprocessors for battery-powered portable computers. Now newcomer Transmeta Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., is trying to do the same for servers with its Crusoe processor. Low-energy processors also cut electrical consumption by eliminating cooling fans.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said last Thursday that California might experience 30 to 35 more rolling power blackouts during peak summer periods. The Defense Department, California's largest single energy user, consumes about 1 percent of the total at peak times. Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said DOD will cut that by a tenth through investing in energy-efficient equipment as well as conservation and power generation at its sites.

According to the Energy Information Administration's historical table of federal energy consumption between 1975 and 1999, at www.eia.doe.gov/pub/energy.overview/aer1999/txt/aer0112.txt, agencies' electrical use soared in the late 1980s and early 1990s as local and wide area networks sprang up. Consumption then tailed off somewhat because of government downsizing and a series of presidential orders to cut energy consumption.

Large data centers draw multimegawatts of power in continuous operation, which has led California companies such as Adobe Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. to plan for enforced employee time off during certain weeks this summer.

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