Tag Archives: Green Computing

Something Green Stirs up North (and Japan too)

Scottish data hosting company Alchemy Plus have developed an excellent idea to use the excess heat generated by their new Inverness based data centre to keep shops, offices and a even a hotel warm.

The idea is part of the regeneration of Inverness Harbour, and is to include an “iconic landmark building” that is to “act like a beacon for others”. The construction and development of the project is set to cost £20 million but over 400 jobs will be created when its complete.

Alchemy is located in Dingwall, a classically rough Scottish town in the highlands that’s a short distance from Inverness, and plays host to multiple datacentres. The company have been running cloud-computing services for the last 18 months, and reckons customers have saved 28 percent of their overall costs.

Alchemy has a grand plan to power all of this by using “established hydro-electric and wind power schemes”. And as a person who worked in Inverness for a year believe me its windy enough and cold enough for any datacentre to exist.

In other green news, technology manufacturer Fuitsu have launched its own Green IT label, along side a bunch of other organisations including EPEAT, Energy Star, Blue Angel and Nordic Swan.

The company made its announcement yesterday, claiming that current labelling programs are not broad enough, and that computer and electronic gadget buyers should be made better aware of how green their chosen product is.

The label from Futjitsu has already be plastered on to its November production line, and ranks hardware in three categories: Materials used in construction, ease of recycling, and energy efficiency.

In the first category, the company checks to see if products are halogen-free, don’t have brominated flame retardants (BFR’s) and polyvinyl chloride PVC.

To gain a gold star for recycling, products must be able to be taken to pieces by just one person, using commonly available tools. Spare parts for aid products must be easy to install and be easily available.

With regard to power consumption, each product carrying the seal of approval must be at least 80 percent power efficient in their internal power supplies and at least 84 percent efficient externally. Products that crack the 90 percent barrier will gain a three-star seal of approval.

The company is also whacking labels on the side of packaging. The manuals and external wrappers must be made from the greenest materials possible, to gain a higher overall score. Expect to see more of these labels in the coming year.

Greener Gaming? New report shows Consoles are eating up too much power

Everywhere you look right now you see green this, green that. It’s on the tip of everyone who loves a debate’s tongue, and is debated at al levels of society and industry. The one place that’s escaped the notion of green computing is something that pretty much every home has these days – games consoles.

A new report from the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) has warned game consoles developers to do more to cut down the machines power consumption.

The report claims that across the US, video game consoles can consume the same amount of power as it would take to light up all of the homes in San Diego, and the bulk of energy consumption actually takes place while the system sits on standby.

NRDC Senior Scientist Noah Horowitz said, “If you leave your Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 on all the time, you can cut your electric bill by as much as $100 a year simply by turning it off when you are finished playing”.

“With so many struggling in today’s economy, it’s important to realize there are simple steps gamers can take to lower their energy costs. And if manufacturers make future systems more energy efficient, they’ll be doing the right thing for consumers’ pockets, for our clean energy future, and for the environment.”

The NRDC report detailed the amount of energy consumption Xbox 360’s, Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii use when they are active, on standby or turned off.

The research found that on average, the PS3 and 360 used a huge 150 watts and 119 watts, respectively. Over a year the two systems used more than 1,000 kilowatt-hours is they were left on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which is equal to running two fridges at the same time, for the same length of time – but in reality I’ve never heard of an Xbox 360 can manage that task… but I digress.

The Wii was much more economical, using just 20 watts of electricity, which is less that the Wii’s big brother, the GameCube. The other consoles used far more power than their earlier models.

“Video game consoles are really just specialized computers, and most computers, especially laptops, have really sophisticated energy management technology,” said Nick Zigelbaum, an energy analyst at NRDC. He believes energy efficiency, “is just something these companies have not connected with their products”.

The main reason for the 360 and PS3’s high energy consumption is down to the systems high-definition capabilities. Using these functions cause the consoles to work extremely hard, creating huge energy levels, and continues even after the consoles is switched off.

The PS3 for example, uses five times as much power than that of a standard Sony Blu-ray DVD player, playing the same movie.

The NRDC recommends that manufacturers should incorporate more energy efficient components and automatic energy management features.

“It would just be default like when you’re typing something in Word and you close your laptop. You don’t lose the document you were working on. It’s been saved, most of the time whether you chose to save it or not. That kind of communication and coordination is something that should start happening in the gaming industry,” Zigelbaum said.

Zigelbaum noted that power saving methods is catching on these days. He aid that it used to be that many people would leave lights on when they left a room, but now people are switching off.

“The work that is going forward now by Microsoft and Sony to include some auto-off features are a really good and necessary step. Now the focus is on how to make those features work the way they want them to and the way we want them to work,” he continued.

EU sets Code of Conduct for Greener Datacentres

The European Commission (EU) has requested that data centre owners voluntarily sign a Code of Conduct which encourages a best practice when it comes to energy efficiency, and provide monthly energy reports and an overall annual report to an EU secretariat.

The Code of Conduct states that: “Electricity consumed in data centres, including enterprise servers, ICT equipment, cooling equipment and power equipment, is expected to contribute substantially to the electricity consumed in the European Union (EU) commercial sector in the near future.”

The man behind the plan is Paolo Bertoldi who is part o the EU’s Renewable Energies Unit is taking responsibility to ensure greener datacentres. Bertoldi has been, for the past two years, behind a working group that has had a series of meetings including, European government representatives including DEFRA, and various manufacturers with a business interest including Intel and Sun Microsystems.

Bertoldi has worked hard to encourage the support of multiple public sector bodies across the length and breadth of Europe, by taking on jobs that they can’t do, or don’t want to do, and getting them involved without over-committing them – an impressive feat fro the generally slow to move EU.

The EU press release said that, “Historically, data centres have been designed with large tolerances for operational and capacity changes, including possible future expansion. Many today use design practices that are woefully outdated. These factors lead to power consumption inefficiencies. In most cases only a small fraction of the grid power consumed by the data centre actually gets to the IT systems. Most enterprise data centres today run significant quantities of redundant power and cooling systems typically to provide higher levels of reliability. Additionally IT systems are frequently run at a low average utilization.”

The Code of Conduct has been put on place to reduce European data centre power consumption, and has the support of the British government.

Companies and public sector bodies will sign up to the CoC, agreeing to a set amount of initial energy consumption, monitor it month by month, and try to undertake some best practices, like virtualising servers, using cold-aisle cooling and not mixing hot and cold air in the data centre.

This new initiative is an encouraging step toward a greener Europe, it will be interesting to see how data centres change their current practices to adapt to the new rules over the coming months.