MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. The US Environmental Protection Agency will propose extending its Energy Star program used for desktop PCs and consumer appliances to computer servers later this year. If the trial goes well, Energy Star metrics for power consumption could be applied to other data center equipment including networking switches and storage arrays.
The EPA may announce the effort as part of a report on the problem of rising power consumption in large data centers. The report, due out in about two weeks, will also recommend metrics for measuring power efficiency in data centers and suggest government and commercial data centers begin using them.
"We think there is an opportunity to apply the Energy Star program to servers and other data center systems," said Andrew Fanara, a product development team leader for the EPA's Energy Star program. "We will have a straw man proposal out late this year for setting out the assumptions and objectives," he added.
"We will look at servers first because they tend to be more definable systems and we have a history working with the computer industry," he said.
The EPA report will recommend one existing method for measuring the power efficiency of a data center for use in the short term. However, it will also point to the work-in-progress on a more up-to-date metric under development by the Green Grid, a broad industry consortium of data center companies.
It could take two years to develop a good way to measure data center efficiency based on the amount of teraflops produced by a center per kilowatt of energy it consumes. That's because there is such a variety of data center configurations, said Richard Brown, an engineer in the energy division of Berkeley National Laboratory and one of the authors of the upcoming EPA report.
The EPA report will ask government data centers to start measuring and reporting their power efficiency. It will also ask the government data centers to develop a road map for improving their efficiency over time to act as examples for commercial data centers.
The report was mandated by House bill H.R. 5646 signed by President George W. Bush on Dec. 20. It called on the EPA to submit to Congress within six months a report drafted with help form the computer industry recommending whether the government should adopt new incentives to handle rising power consumption in data centers.