Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

Every year, blogs around the world center on one topic for a day; this year, climate change is the focus. What can IT staff do about climate change?

A lot, it turns out. The data center is a huge user of electricity, and there are a lot of things that can be done to reduce power usage. A lot of electricity comes from polluting sources and contributes in other ways to a global change in the climate.

One thing that can be done is to pull old machines out entirely and replace them with newer more power efficient models. Often, older models are hoarded because of the cost to the organization in getting a new computer. Newer computer models with newer processors can use half the electricity of older models; just make sure that you actually get efficient servers instead of getting one which is not efficient.

Another possibility is to go with blade servers. These are servers that are thin and small, permitting a higher density of servers in a rack than ever before. Blade servers are typically designed to save power; for instance, HP claims a 25% power savings with their c-class server blades (which can run HP-UX, OpenVMS, Linux, or Windows).

Alternately, you could run several machines on one server using a virtual machine. HP-UX 11i offers something called Integrity Virtual Machines (or IVM). IVMs are full virtualized Integrity machines; currently supported are HP-UX 11i, Red Hat or SUSE Linux, and Microsoft Windows Server. OpenVMS 8.4 (expected in the first half of 2010) will support running as a guest operating system in an IVM as well.

Let’s look at the Top 500 list – a ranking of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world. However, this list only focuses on speed and power; with this in mind consider the Green 500 list. The Green 500 takes the Top 500 list and ranks it by computer power per watt used: thus, the most power for the least number of watts (that is, the most efficient supercomputer) is the top entry.

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