Thursday, August 12, 2010

International Standards for Data Centre Metrics

Greetings from DC GreenTech in Sydney. Graeme Phillipson from Connection Research talked about recently attended an international meeting on standards for data centre metrics at the APECTEL 42 Meeting in Brunei (August 2010) and reported some results. He claimed that electricity costs in Australia would double in the next few years and that electricity was the most rapidly increasing cost for data centres. What I found interesting was that unlike most "green" speakers he did not mention climate change. This was appropriate given the audience was made up of people who run data centres which consume large amounts of electricity.

Graeme referred to the ACS ICT energy audit, which he authored. This found 2.7% of CO2e in Australia. More significant was that computers use 7.1% of the electricity in Australia. He gave a good explanation of scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. The ACS study did not cover scope 3 emissions.

The largest ICT energy use is the cooling for data centers at 18.8%. This is followed by PCs 15.8% and Printers 15.7% and then servers 14.7%.

Graeme discussed the benefits and limitations of measures such as PUE. This measures how much of the power going into a data centre actually gets to the computer equipment. This is easy to calculate but only measures the efficiency of the data centre equipment, not what the computers actually do.

In response to limitations in PUE, the Green Grid have proposed Data Centre Energy Productivity (DCeP). This measures the ration of "useful work" from the computer to energy used. The problem is how to define what useful work is.

It seems to me that the computer industry has been struggling with computer power, in terms of the work produced, for decades. Rather than try to create a new measure, it should be feasible to create energy efficiency measures for each of the existing computer benchmarks. An overall figure could be created by a weighted average of the benchmarks.

EPA did a study which found that PUEs in real data centres follow an S curve and proposed an energy star standard in April 2010.

The EU produced a data centre code of conduct.

The Japanese Green IT Promotion Council (GiPC). The details of their DPPE will be released in a white paper next week. The Japanese approach does not include "useful work".

Graeme mentioned an "emerging Australian Standard". NABERS Energy for Data Centres work is being done. This is interesting as NABERS building standards are already in place for other types of buildings, such as offices. A standard for data centres is likely to be widely adopted as companies already understand the idea of having energy rated buildings.

Graeme is dong research for the NABERS standard and so far has data for 40 data centres. The standard was due to be out July 2010 and no is unlikely before July 2011.

On 5 April 2010 green grid announced "Global Harmonization of Data Center Energy Efficiency Metrics" with US, European and Japanese bodies has agreed to work on common international standards in a media release that US, European and Japanese bodies has agreed to work on common international standards. The aim is to come up with a global standard in 2011. In the interim PUE and DCiE are good enough to be worth going on with.
The Green Grid, the IT industry’s leading voice for advancing energy
efficiency in data centers, today announced that in an unprecedented global effort, the consortium along with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Save Now and Federal Energy Management Programs, U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR Program, European Union Code of Conduct, Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s (METI) Green IT Initiative, and Japan’s Green IT
Promotion Council (GIPC) have collectively reached an agreement on the guiding principles of data center energy efficiency metrics. This agreement represents a significant achievement, as these
organizations continue working to ensure data center efficiency metrics, measurements and reporting conventions can be applied with clarity and consistency at the global level.

“The ultimate goal is to create a set of globally accepted metrics for data center energy efficiency. One of the first, and perhaps most important factors to successfully achieving this aim is establishing a unity of communication,” said Tom Brey, IBM representative and Secretary of The Green Grid. “The Green Grid is working with organizations around the world to develop a clear and well-defined language for the way we communicate about energy efficiency metrics, which will give us a common measuring stick for all
data centers regardless of their location. With that type of consistency, we can start driving behavioral changes in the industry.”

As the basis for these guiding principles, The Green Grid and the aforementioned organizations have designated Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) as the industry’s preferred energy efficiency metric. The group will leverage the guiding principles to help drive a universal understanding of energy efficiency metrics and generate dialogue to improve data center efficiencies. A global task force with
representatives from each of the above mentioned organizations will continue to move this initiative forward and reconvene later this year to evaluate progress. ...

From: "Global Harmonization of Data Center Energy Efficiency Metrics", The Green Grid, 5 April 2010.

1 comment:

Tony Khoury said...

It is interesting to note that 18.8% of the consumed power is going into Data Centre cooling. From Govt information released previously I have estimated that the existing Government data centres are running at a PUE of approx. 2.4 and that probably represents a reasonable industry average.

If nothing else changes, other than going to state of the art cooling technology for data centres, the aim should be for a PUE of approx. 1.4 for new data centres . This would mean that a shift to new cooling systems alone could bring the total ICT electricity consumption down by approx. 13% which has been worked out from assuming a 70% reduction of electricity use as compared to the current cooling technologies.