Energy Efficient ICT

I learnt all sort of things last week at a workshop in Cardiff.  The power consumption of various bits of an average server for instance.

Power supply unit – 38w
Fan – 10w
CPU – 80w
Memory – 36w
Disks – 12w
Slots – 50w
Motherboard – 25w

I learnt that you lose roughly 50% of the power that you pay for by the time that it gets to your server.

I learnt that they were cooling hot computer components with water back in the 1960’s, so any (entirely understandable) fears you might have about scary amounts of electricity mixing with water in your state-of-the-art data centre … relax.

And much else besides. The workshop was called ‘Sustainable IT in Universities and Colleges: Energy Efficient Configuration, Cooling and Power Supply in Data Centres.’

Funded by JISC, run by Peter James as part of the SusteIT initiative, and hosted by Hugh Beedie at Cardiff university, there were about 50 participants from a range of institutions and from a mix of IT and Estates departments, the coming-together of which would be a laudable outcome in its own right, never mind the content of the workshop!

There was a great to deal to consider, but one thing stood out very clearly from the presentations. The most sustainable, energy efficient, and ultimately the cheapest way of dealing with the storage and access of digital information is to do it at scale, with state of the art equipment, in Scotland.

Pardon? … yes, in Scotland apparently. The weather is colder in Scotland and if, as Mike Brown (University of Edinburgh) explained, you install a system where you can use the outside ambient temperature to take over from your chiller units when it gets cold enough to render inside air conditioning pointless, then the rather bracing Scottish climate could end up saving you a great heap of money. He has figures, and evidence … it’s all very plausible.

Neil Grindley
Digital Preservation Programme Manager

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