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Power Consumption in the Data Center a Growing Concern
As I write this article, my homegrown file server is raising the temperature a few degrees while copying a couple terabytes of data. One file server and a few terabytes is pittance compared with a data center, but on a small scale it highlights one of the big issues that data centers face: Power consumption from all the new data that is emerging from mobile devices, cloud services and social media and big data.
Big data is of course a big trend. Last month, Donna Taylor, research director for datacenter storage research in Europe for IDC (News - Alert), said that big data is causing a lot of strain to datacenter facilities and spiking datacenter workloads.
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), for instance, generated 75 petabytes of data in just three years. That’s an average of 25,000 one-terabyte drives per year.
“Our research shows that major challenges for datacenter administrators today, in the wake of big data, are security; keeping data highly available; and complying with data-related regulatory requirements,” said Taylor.
But so is power consumption.
“Supporting all of this digital complexity is an analog technology that predates them all – power. The last thing you want to have fail when everyone is counting on you is power. Yet even power is succumbing to the digital tidal wave,” noted a ServerTech blog post recently.
Five years ago, the U.S. environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report predicting that power consumption by data centers in the United States would double between 2005 to 2010, just as it had done from 2000 to 2005, wrote Irfan Khan in IT World last year. IDC said power and cooling demand is the number one operational problem for data centers.
That’s why power management in the data center has been so important. As big data places larger demands on the data center, power needs to go down and not up.
Part of the solution is more efficient systems.
When the EPA issued its report on power a few years ago, it was basing it on Intel (News - Alert) servers running two core chipsets at 110 watts. Today Intel’s E7 chipset architecture runs 10 cores with 20 processing threads using only 130 watts, noted Khan. “In short, you can do substantially more processing within a substantially smaller power envelope with the latest servers.”
Big data itself also is coming to the rescue. Today’s power technologies can better chart and report on power usage, helping data centers optimize performance and save power.
“The Sentry Power Manager (SPM) tool from Server Technology (News - Alert) is one way of coping with the power data coming from your datacenters,” noted the blog post. “With the built in reporting and alerting functions, there is no need to drown in a sea of power numbers. And when it comes time to report your PUE, having the compute load numbers at your finger tips can be a pleasant experience.”
So while power consumption is an increasing issue, there also are solutions mitigating the problem.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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