Cutting energy consumption in data centres is a key priority in the IT world. The towering ranks of servers are the backbone of our digital lives, and they are hungry for power.
Now a team of European researchers has developed a free plug-in to keep them computing more efficiently.
The work is part of two European projects, Fit4Green, coordinated by GFI, and the follow up project All4Green, in which Italian telecoms company WIND is a partner.
María Pérez Ortega, Project Coordinator at Fit4Green explains: “Our objective is to improve the energy efficiency of data centres. We have developed a technical solution that is capable of cutting between 20 and 50 per cent of data centre energy consumption.
“Conceptually the idea is pretty simple. We thought: there are all these servers working at 50 or 70 per cent, and all of them are switched on and using a lot of energy, and all need cooling. If we can move the workload among servers so they work at 100 per cent then we can switch off some of the servers,” she added.
It may sound simple, but developing software that could properly integrate with, and take advantage of, existing energy management systems was more difficult.
Marco Di Girolamo, EU Projects Coordinator at HP Italy explained: “We had three phases of experimentation, in real test beds in which we took into account three different types of data centre, a traditional data centre, a data centre that offers cloud computing services, and a data centre for scientific computations.”
He added: “Through our experiments we managed to demonstrate that concentrating the work on fewer machines and switching off some of them is possible without damaging the quality of the service offered by the data centre to its users and customers.”
Another technical hurdle was to make sure the plug in, which is free, saved energy across all sizes of data centre.
Fit4Green’s María Pérez Ortega said: “The commercial solutions only work when your hardware is theirs. Our plug in can work with whatever environment, whatever hardware you have, independently of the platform that you have in your data centre.”