EU to study datacentre energy use

A voluntary code on efficiency is planned

The European Commission is considering introducing a code of conduct on energy efficiency for datacentre operators.

This week, the Renewable Energies Unit of the Commission’s Joint Research Centre will meet in London to discuss the idea.

If adopted, a code of conduct would be voluntary, says Antonia Mochan, spokeswoman for the science and research unit of the Commission. Those organisations that adopt it would agree to abide by certain principles or standards.

The London meeting will include a session on the technical capabilities for reducing datacentre energy use and what a code of conduct — if one is to be adopted — should include. Participants will include hardware manufacturers, including Intel, and datacentre designers and operators.

The Commission has developed a few regulations about computer energy consumption, says Kevin Fisher, Intel’s standards and regulations manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Environmental agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, which placed limits on greenhouse gas emissions for countries, are driving government interest in reducing energy consumption, Fisher says.

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star programme is used internationally as a specification for energy-efficient desktop computers, but the specification does not address servers.

Part of the problem is a lack of metrics for establishing efficient server power consumption, although several efforts are under way, Fisher says.

The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation, a US-based non-profit group, is developing a first-generation benchmark for evaluating the energy efficiency of servers. The benchmark will measure energy use in conjunction with performance metrics.

In December, US President George Bush authorised the EPA to study datacentre power consumption. The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab at the University of California is also studying energy issues with servers, and a report is due before the US Congress in June.

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