Data centers are growing bigger and bigger these days. As cloud computing rapidly expands, so do the data centers supporting it. Some companies are utilizing novel ways of cooling servers to keep energy demand down and some are just letting the outside air take care of it, but another approach -- cutting down on the servers needed in the first place -- could go a long way to slash data center energy demands.
A new energy monitoring device and management system for data centers could help companies to do just that. Developed by the Embedded Systems Laboratory at EPFL in Switzerland, the new system called Power Monitor System and Management (PMSM), monitors and tracks the energy consumption by racks of servers and, even better, can redistribute workload among servers to optimize energy use. According to the developers, the system can cut power demand by 30 to 50 percent.
As described by EPFL:
The system consists of an electronic box comprising a set of sensors. Each one of them can be connected either to the racks’ main power or directly to one of the cables supplying energy to the electronic components of the server. By measuring the current passing through it at some point, the sensor can gauge the power used, log the energy consumption variations and control that the system does not overheat. The information recorded is transmitted to a central server where the PMSM software is running. It is then processed together with other data - such as the room temperature or the priorities of the ongoing operations- and the system creates a table showing the evolution of the servers’ energy consumption, which can be accessed remotely and in real time.
Beyond just being able to see the energy demand of the servers in real time, the system can also carry workloads from one machine to another to consolidate the workloads and save energy. "Two servers running at 40% of their capacity each, consume much more than only one at 80%" explained David Atienza, director of the Embedded Systems Laboratory.
Credit Suisse is already using the system on 5,200 of their server racks. The bank requested that the device be created so that it could reduce data center energy consumption through "server virtualization," or the growing of computer processing power alongside a reduction in servers.
One of the major ways that this workload consolidation works is that cutting out servers and concentrating them into a smaller space means less energy required for cooling and temperature control, often the biggest energy drain of a data center.