The Green Grid to Deliver Energy-Saving Tips

By David Needle (Send Email)
Posted Apr 20, 2006


Energy costs aren't just rising at the gas pump, they're rising in the data center, too. Enter The Green Grid, a nonprofit organization funded by AMD, HP,  Sun Microsystems, and IBM. Whatever their motives, AMD, HP, IBM, and Sun have come together to launch The Green Grid, a non-profit organization designed to help IT departments better manage their energy needs.

The Green Grid (TGG), endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the non-profit Alliance to Save Energy, is designed to help IT departments wrestle with the problem of heat, cooling energy consumption, and costs by serving as an interactive resource of best practices.

"We don't want to make this a complex bureaucracy but a place where IT professionals and others can collaborate and share best practices," Ben Williams, vice president of marketing at AMD, told internetnews.com.

"We're very excited about being able to help drive the industry to get the best performance per watt."

Membership in TGG is free. Whether TGG becomes a paid membership organization and other aspects of how it evolves will be decided over time by the members in the group, said Williams.

He indicated there may be news of more companies joining in the next month. An AMD  spokesman said Intel received an invitation but it hasn't responded.

But if TGG becomes popular in the IT community, one analyst said it will be because companies see an opportunity to save money; not because they want to help the environment.

"On the PC front, some consumers might buy a system that's more eco-friendly, but the back end, where the servers run, businesses are in business to make money," Adam Braunstein, senior research analyst with Robert Frances Group, told internetnews.com.

"Companies in general will pursue environmental and energy-saving initiatives when there's a financial or a good PR reason to do so."

AMD said independent research it conducted during the last quarter of 2005 showed that more than 80 percent of IT and data center managers are concerned with power consumption and cooling issues.

"So we looked at ways we could help address that concern by providing a way to share best practices," said Williams. "We're not trying to usurp anything the EPA does. We think there's a lot of benefit to what the EPA and Sun are doing, and if we all help each other, we can get a set of best practices out to the industry as a whole."

Williams said one goal of the TGG might be to help spur the creation of a energy savings certification for data centers along the lines of the EPA's Energy Star program.

Williams added that both AMD and Sun have been pushing for an industry standard or metric for measuring server and data center energy performance.

"We believe getting those kind of metrics are part of best practices," he said. "But at the highest level, we know that power's increased exponentially over the last 10 to 20 years, and we believe it's time for that to stop.

"There's no silver bullet; the industry has to come together to address this."

Ironically, Braunstein said one of the biggest power issues is the growth of server blade systems in the data center promoted by AMD, Sun, HP, and a raft of other computer companies.

"The heat coming out and the power required of a server blade rack is exponentially higher than what a mainframe or Unix system suck up," said Braunstein.

"In some cases the power company is telling the data center operator, 'We can't give you any more power.' And you have CEOs with better things to do than show up at local community planning meetings to justify their diesel generators."

Overall, Braunstein credits AMD for playing to its strength in promoting energy savings.

"There is no doubt AMD has the better performance per watt -- much better than Intel's Xeon and Itanium. Intel will have a response in the third quarter with new chips and then it will be get real interesting to see who's the best."

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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