TPC-Energy spec will spur higher data center efficiency

New spec tells data center operators which system setups deliver the most performance per watt

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There's a possible exception regarding the lack of tailored energy/performance/price data for your company's needs: if, for example, your organization puts out an RFP for millions of dollars' worth of servers. In that scenario, the company could require bidding vendors to include price/performance and energy/performance measurements for the buyer's given data center setup and workload.

MPG for the data center
The big question is whether vendors will report their TPC-Energy results. Mike Nikolaiev, chairman of the TPC-Energy Specification Committee, says data should appear on the TPC site in the next 30 to 60 days. Notably, the spec received unanimous approval from the 22 members of the TPC who voted, which is remarkable in and of itself. How often do competing vendors agree on anything if they fear they'll end up looking bad in the end? (TPC has 24 full members, including big-name hardware and software vendors such as Microsoft, AMD, Intel, HP, IBM, Dell, Oracle, and more).

The TPC-Energy spec isn't perfect. In the perfect world, each server would have a little sticker reporting in clear, simple numbers their energy efficiency for different workloads, similar to the city and highway MPG stats you see on the windows in car lots. In reality, there are just too many variables at play, and there isn't enough room for that many stickers. It's worth nothing, though, that the stickers on vehicles don't tell you MPG for when the air conditioner is running or if you're carrying a half-ton of lumber in the back.

The good news is the TPC-Energy spec represents important progress in driving both hardware and software vendors to improve the energy efficiency of their offerings, notes Nik Simpson, senior analyst at Burton Group. If HP servers consistently beat Dell servers in publicized energy-efficiency tests, for example, Dell knows it has to work to catch up. The same goes for AMD and Intel if the AMD machines consistently have better energy/performance. Anything that spurs vendors to make their products more energy efficient ultimately saves you, the customer, money in the long run -- and spares us all the carbon emissions associated with energy waste.

This story, "TPC-Energy spec will spur higher data center efficiency," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in green IT at

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