The IT sector sucks up about as much energy as the aviation industry. This is largely due to the ugly guts of the Internet–the data centers with their racks of servers that must be constantly hooked up to power and cooled with air conditioning. Data centers are expected to hit a resource crisis, doubling their energy needs by 2012. But this is the most intelligence-intensive industry of all–can’t they use smarts to cut their energy needs?
Well, yes. And three basic approaches were suggested recently:
1. More efficient chips. Samsung recently came out a with the “world’s most efficient,” ultra-small, ultra-low-power DRAM chip, which uses 20% less energy than similar chips.
2. Smarter cooling. HP sells a “Dynamic Smart Cooling” system that reduces cooling costs by 25-40%.
3. The simplest solution of all: ventilate with outside air, and allow the centers to run hotter. Yesterday, reps from Microsoft, Oracle and Intel all claimed at a conference that they want their procurers to run with outside air as hot as 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit, even if that means a few more failures. Will the data center operators listen?