Data Center Energy Summit in Silicon Valley

Technology industry heavyweights including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard sat down with federal energy regulators yesterday to discuss the emerging data center power crisis, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The meeting’s goal was to “assess the industry’s thirst for power amid fears that volatile and expensive energy could hinder the growing sector.”

The dramatic increase in power demand in the data center is driven by high-density blade server installations, and has been a regular topic here. Yesterday’s event demonstrates that this is a front-of-mind issue for the industry’s major players – and for the federal government as well. An excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Energy, which measures power use in various industries, hopes to learn from the companies, and to design guidelines for building efficient facilities and technology, said Andrew Karsner, assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy for the department. He also is considering eventually auditing energy use in technology facilities, much like the department’s audits of steel and paper plants. The round table, hosted by Advanced Micro Devices, was the first meeting in what Karsner called a public and private partnership.

It’s interesting to see AMD organizing this initiative, especially with so many hardware and facilities professionals looking to the chipmakers for leadership on responses that can produce broad-based power savings. Although it’s not mentioned in the Mercury-News, the Register’s Ashlee Vance notes that Intel was also in attendance and dropped hints that it might soon join the Green Grid initiative, an industry consortium that laid the groundwork for yesterday’s summit.

Intel’s attendance, along with the company’s recent acknowledgement that it was “slow to acknowledge the need for low power consumption designs,” offer signs that Intel is getting religion about power.

Another interesting wrinkle: Google reps wanted to consider energy used by laptops and personal computers in the discussion, while others argued that standards needed to be set for the development of data centers. The subject is also being discussed over at Slashdot.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.