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Powernap Plan Could Save 75 Percent of Data Center Energy


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The University of Michigan plans to save up to 75 percent of the energy that computer data centers consume by putting servers into sleep mode when they are not being used. Michigan professor Thomas Wenisch and his students analyzed data-center workloads and power consumption and used mathematical models to develop their power-saving approach. The system features PowerNap, a plan to put idle servers to sleep, and Redundant Array for Inexpensive Load Sharing, which is a more efficient power supply technique.

Data centers are very inefficient because they must be ready for peak performance when it is needed, which results in them wasting much of the energy that they receive. "For the typical industrial data center, the average utilization is 20 to 30 percent," Wenisch says. "The computers are spending about four-fifths of their time doing nothing. And the way we build these computers today, they're still using 60 percent of peak power even when they're doing nothing." If servers could sleep periodically data centers would be far more efficient, though the servers would have to be able to go to sleep and wake up exceedingly fast. PowerNap would require a new operating system to coordinate the instantaneous sleeping and waking, but most of the technologies that would enable this technique already exist, Wenisch says.

From The University of Michigan News Service
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