Are the servers in your datacenter energy-efficient? Well, that rather depends on what your definition of "server" is.
Bill Clintonesque as that may sound, it reflects one of the many conundrums the EPA faces as it attempts to hammer out Energy Star specifications for server hardware. The department has issued the first draft of the spec [PDF], and it's seeking input from interested stakeholders by March 14.
Interest in the topic should certainly be keen among server vendors as well as chipmakers: Given the growing trend among companies to be greener, an Energy Star stamp could prove a significant selling point for servers down the road.
The draft document reflects one of the biggest challenges the EPA faces in devising an Energy Star specification for servers: They're far more difficult to meaningfully categorize in the context of energy efficiency than end-user hardware such as PCs and laptops.
"EPA would like this specification to be as inclusive as possible but also understands that some of the more complex or niche server types and applications may not be easily addressed under this specification," the Energy Star Draft 1 document reads. "Several stakeholders have suggested that the specification focus on 'volume' servers. However, the term 'volume' is used to classify server types based more on price than function. For purposes of this specification, a computer server definition should be specific enough to clearly delineate based on intended application, hardware/software, and/or operational requirements."