Green Upgrades Save on Datacenter Costs

-written by Colin Pittham, Dataram Memory Blog Team Member

Recent reports have indicated that datacenter power consumption in the US has almost doubled in the last five years and is set to continue at a similar rate in the years to come. With roughly 2W required to cool every watt of power consumed and with energy cost also increasing, companies are facing potentially huge increases in the costs of running their datacenters.

Clearly it is important to understand the overall energy efficiency of the datacenter. Significant savings can be made by adopting greener cooling and lighting solutions. Equally, effective use of new server technologies and careful adoption of high density infrastructures will also help reduce energy costs.

But save for replacing all existing servers with new low energy server solutions, what can be done with the existing infrastructure? Virtualization is a popular strategy—particularly on x86 servers— to improve utilization and make more cost-effective use of the server infrastructure. Unfortunately, virtualization is also a big consumer of memory and memory has fast become the largest power consumer in a typical server. It seems that the drive for efficiency has a significant energy cost implication, too.

Customers are clearly seeking more power-efficient solutions and green memory products are becoming a top shopping list item for upgrades to current infrastructure. Today, at the lower memory density range for x86 based systems, customers can expect to pay between a 10% and 20% premium for lower voltage DIMMS. In contrast, the newer and harder-to-source higher density DIMMs are commanding as much as a 100% premium in price for the lower voltage product. Adoption of these products is understandably slower today, but such is the demand for energy efficient upgrades that customers have indicated that once the premium has dropped to the 50/60% mark, take-up will significantly improve.

This is not surprising as green DDR3 consumes around 40% less power compared to DDR2 solutions. Further, recent studies have shown that moving to green DDR3 can provide savings in excess of 2 Megawatt hours of electrical power per year per server. Green upgrade options are not only cost-effective from an energy perspective, but they also extend the life of your current architecture and are a lot easier and quicker to install than a bunch of new servers.

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