Server Farming

Nov 5 2008   5:32PM GMT

Third draft of Energy Star server spec is out

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

The federal Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced that it has completed the third draft of the Energy Star specification for servers. Here are the highlights:

The Tier 1 server spec, which includes one- to four-socket servers, is scheduled to take effect on Feb. 1. For servers with more than four processor sockets, called Tier 2, the benchmark won’t take effect until October of 2010. Blade servers aren’t included, and neither are DC-powered servers that don’t have a built in DC-to-DC power supply. The EPA hopes to address those server form factors in the future with an add-on to the specification. Network and storage equipment, as well as server “appliances,” are also not included.

(As an aside, the EPA’s draft mentions that the Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. (SPEC) is developing a SPECpower benchmark for blade servers, similar to the one SPEC released last year for volume x86 rack servers. Once SPEC does that, EPA will get to work on its Energy Star spec for blades)

The spec includes a matrix for power supply efficiency requirements. For example, if the server has a multi-output power supply, the supply should be at 82% efficiency when the server is at full load.

The spec also sets power consumption limits for when the server is idle. For a single-socket server, the limit is 60 watts; for 2-3 socket servers, the limit is 151-221 watts depending on how much memory is installed; and for four-socket servers, the limit is 271 watts. There are allowances made for additional installed components (such as 15 watts for another hard drive).

For the server performance compared to power, the Energy Star uses the SPECpower benchmark, which measures server-side Java performance.

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