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Power Reduction in Servers

John Engates, our CTO, recently posted an article about Rackspace and Data Center Efficiency. Having been a part of a lot of those discussions and initiatives, I wanted to briefly touch on what we’ve done specifically to help reduce our carbon footprint on our servers in our Datacenters.

Processor Technology:

AMD Opteron has played a big part in us being able to reduce power. There are several reasons for this. When Opteron came out, they decided to take a different approach and deviate from what was the standard architecture that Intel always used. They integrated the memory controller on the processor and were able to remove the Northbridge from the motherboard. Because of this, the memory was linked directly to the processor and eliminated the usual bottlenecks that the Intel Platforms experienced. This allowed them to stay on older technology memory instead of jumping to the next while maintaining competitive performance. Because of this, we’ve been able to maintain performance with the Intel Xeons while taking advantage of faster memory throughput, reduced power, and reduced cost. One great example of this is that the AMD Socket F platform uses DDR2 memory and has better performance in some cases against Intel Xeon platforms with Fully Buffered Dimms (which take about twice as much power per module).

Processors Type:

Today we’re heavily focused on purchasing the most efficient processors. This includes the High Efficiency (HE) models from AMD and the Low Voltage Xeon from Intel. We tend to stay away from the more power hungry series unless our customers require them.

Hard Drives:

With Small Form Factor 2.5″ drives becoming more mainstream there are a lot of power benefits from these. They run cooler and use less power than their larger 3.5″ counterparts. We’ve been working on transitioning to these as they provide better performance as well.

Power Supplies:

We’ve evaluated a lot of different power supplies to identify the most efficient power supplies to use. We’ve found the perfect mix of efficient power supplies that meet the 80Plus Standard and that are very reliable. In a datacenter environment it’s critical to ensure that everything will be reliable.

Fans:

We do a lot of testing to ensure that our servers receive the proper amount of cooling but we don’t over do it. In a datacenter environment, a single fan may not eat up much power, but with thousands of servers it can add up to a lot of wasted power.

Virtualization:

While Virtualization is not a component of the server, it does allow for our customers to reduce their datacenter for servers that aren’t completely utilized. This in turn saves them money if they are able to consolidate and use fewer servers to accomplish the same goals.

If you purchase servers today for your datacenter, I urge you to push your server manufacturers to make their servers more efficient. We’ve been working with our manufacturers for quite some time to ensure our equipment is energy efficient and “Green”. I think this is very valuable not only for the customer but also for the Manufacturer. Dell, one of our server vendors, has been very helpful and open to listening to what we wanted. With Dell being an Intel only shop for a long time, they listened to us when we requested AMD Technology. Because of this, we now deploy the PowerEdge 2970 as part of our Green Configurations.

What are you doing in your datacenter today to reduce power and be more energy efficient?

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Antony Messerli.


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