This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 08, 2007

IBM Says Mainframes Yield Big Energy Savings in Data Centers

Photo of a man standing near a large black box in a room filled with other large black boxes. Another man with a small forklift is blurred by his movement into the room.

IBM Engineer Ed Horton records data from an IBM mainframe computer, which will replace many of the servers in the data center that stretches out behind him. Another data center worker is preparing to remove the excess servers.
Credit: IBM

IBM proved on August 1st that the mainframe computer is not dead, as it announced plans to consolidate 3,900 servers onto 30 mainframes, a move that is expected to cut energy use by 80%. Servers are the workhorses of the Internet, "serving up" files and applications for Internet users. IBM will move from servers to mainframes at its data centers in Colorado, Connecticut, and New York, and at its overseas data centers in Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The mainframe migration is part of IBM's "Project Big Green," an effort to cut energy use in data centers, and IBM calls the migration "one of the most significant transformations of its worldwide data centers in a generation." See the IBM press release.

IBM has also previewed a new "blade" computing system for mid-size businesses. Blade computers integrate Web servers, storage, networking, and applications into one system and were originally designed for large businesses. IBM's new product, the BladeCenter S, sits on a desktop, plugs into a standard power outlet, and can result in an 80% reduction in the number of servers used by an average mid-size company. Most mid-size companies use 25 to 45 servers. See the IBM press release.

Servers could cut their energy use by 25% using existing technologies and strategies, and even more with advanced technologies, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report notes that data centers consumed 1.5% of the electricity produced in the United States in 2006, with federal servers and data centers accounting for about one-tenth of that electrical use. The energy consumption of servers and data centers has doubled in the past five years and is expected to double again in the next five years, according to the EPA. The report concludes that by taking steps to save energy, U.S. data centers could save $4 billion in annual electricity costs. The EPA is considering setting Energy Star standards for servers and will host a Web-based discussion on the report on August 9th (it didn't say how much energy that discussion will use). See the EPA press release and for the full report, see the Enterprise Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency Initiatives page on the Energy Star Web site.