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Energy Stars

When everyone on the planet finally realizes that peak oil is already here or just around the corner, they can look to the server industry as one business that got the big picture early on. Of course, this isn't entirely out of altruism (although server manufacturers will be happy to tout that side of the equation, and with no complaints from me). Rather, in the data center, energy efficiency and savings are simply a matter of good business -- and sooner than later, all businesses are going to have to realize that.
In the meantime, efforts from AMD, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems to make it simpler for companies to run their data centers on less energy usage are under way. The "Green Grid" project is a consortium of those firms that is seeking ways to find a metric that can bring servers under a standard energy-rated program, not unlike the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program; indeed, the end result may fall under that rubric. Sun is also working with the EPA and scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley Labs to try to define ways to rate servers by energy use, drawing on similar initiatives from other industries such as the automotive sector.

As with many projects of this nature, much of the search for better energy technology is customer-driven. We all know that beleaguered data center managers are trying to cut down the budget line for energy as their data centers grow, or shrink with denser blades handling the data flow and sucking down power. Blade manufacturers are more than aware of the problem, and deserve to be commended for working hard to reduce the amount of heat their systems kick out. Now the push seems to be growing into all lines of servers, and we can all hope that it's successful enough to serve as a model for other electronics companies -- and indeed for enterprises in all walks of life.