The Coming ‘C’ Change in Datacenters

By Edward J. Lucente

June 15, 2010

Recently, I was at the Uptime Institute in New York and had several conversations about carbon dioxide (CO2) management for datacenters. Energy consumed by US datacenters in 2010 will reach 3 percent of overall US energy production. This will double in about five years given that the annual growth in datacenter energy consumption is 10 percent. Increases in datacenter CO2 emissions should mirror energy consumption increases since most datacenters will be unable to convert to greener, cleaner, renewable energy sources.

The good folks at the Uptime Institute estimate that datacenter CO2 emissions will quadruple between 2010 and 2020; also that annual global datacenter CO2 emissions are already on par with the CO2 emissions of the airline industry, or even entire countries. Maybe we should put datacenters in airplanes and keep all the CO2 flying around.

Annual CO2 emission comparisons (Mt = thousands of metric tons)

US datacenters   170 Mt
Argentina                142 Mt
Netherlands           146 Mt
Malaysia                  178 Mt

The IT professionals that I spoke with are becoming familiar with their datacenters’ “carbon footprint.” They understand that by managing CO2 emissions they will be better prepared for existing or future greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. (GHG also includes water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.)

Also, I noticed that a number of application software companies have sprouted up to promote carbon management information systems that deal with issues around CO2 compliance standards, CO2 inventory baselining, and financial management of carbon allowances and credits. Certainly, innovative application solutions will be needed to help datacenter professionals and executives navigate through CO2 management challenges associated with:

  • Compliance.
  • Conservation.
  • Complexity.
  • Cost.
  • Competitiveness.

The federal government will be among the early adopters of carbon management software. The US federal government’s demand for carbon management software is expected to grow from its current level of $36 million to $294 million by 2017, according to a new report by Pike Research.

US Legislation

In the United States, government regulations concerning CO2 include the EPA’s GHG Reporting Rule and the pending Kerry-Lieberman bill, known as “cap and trade.” Under the EPA’s GHG Reporting Rule, suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHG emissions are required to submit annual reports to EPA. This would include the largest datacenters, and there is a concern that over time this floor of 25,000 metric tons would be reduced by government. Currently, over a dozen US states are contesting this new EPA law in court, so stay tuned.

The passage of the Kerry-Lieberman bill in 2010 is less certain, especially now with the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is potentially far reaching. If passed, it would require many businesses to measure, monitor, or manage GHG offsets, abatement projects, GHG sources, GHG reporting, carbon prices, and various protocols. This could be a nightmare for datacenter professionals. Just the bill’s preamble scares me, especially the “for other purposes” language:

To secure the energy future of the United States, to provide incentives for the domestic production of clean energy technology, to achieve meaningful pollution reductions, to create jobs, and for other purposes.

Call for Action

I tend to believe that government mandates are less efficient delivery mechanisms than programs developed through private industry and self-regulation; what concerns me is that I have not seen the IT industry take a more proactive, self-regulatory role with regard to managing and minimizing CO2 emissions. Consider these questions:

  • Why should the IT industry wait around for government standards on CO2 emissions?
     
  • Shouldn’t datacenter professionals control and develop their own CO2 management information systems since they understand best their unique IT and business environments?
     
  • Why wouldn’t a CEO, Corporate Sustainability Officer (CSO), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) executive, or CIO want to take more control of their destiny?

As mentioned, IT shops can choose from various application solutions and turn to energy efficiency consultants for additional guidance. Datacenters that reduce their CO2 emissions will also reduce their energy bills (OpEx) and total cost of ownership.

I suggest, therefore, that the IT industry create its own “carbon efficiency consortium” to establish carbon management information standards and solutions aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in datacenters. This would be an industry-led, self-regulatory body that provides thought leadership on CO2 management and shares best practices and recommendations for carbon management.

My bet is that datacenter professionals who develop internal management information systems for carbon management now will achieve significant cost savings ahead of their competitors. It’s not just about a greener planet; it’s about building a sustainable and competitive IT and industry advantage.

About the Author

Edward J. Lucente is vice president of business development at Data Center Rebates, Inc., an IT efficiency consultancy based in Carlsbad, Calif., whose professional services focus on datacenter energy efficiency (DCEE), leasing integrated with technology refreshes, and negotiation of IT energy rebates. Please feel free to email comments to [email protected].

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiology. Clara, you may recall, is Nvidia’s biomedical platform Read more…

By John Russell

DARPA, NSF Seek Real-Time ML Processor

March 18, 2019

A new U.S. research initiative seeks to develop a processor capable of real-time learning while operating with the “efficiency of the human brain.” The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Defense Advanced Re Read more…

By George Leopold

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First U.S. Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaflops, will be delivered by the end of 2021 to Argonne Nation Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

The Spark That Ignited A New World of Real-Time Analytics

High Performance Computing has always been about Big Data. It’s not uncommon for research datasets to contain millions of files and many terabytes, even petabytes of data, or more. Read more…

NASA’s Pleiades Simulates Launch Abort Scenarios

March 15, 2019

NASA is using flow simulations running on its Pleiades supercomputer to help design the agency’s next manned spacecraft, Orion. Crew safety is paramount, so NASA engineers are using the HPC cluster to simulate and v Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiolo Read more…

By John Russell

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First U.S. Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quick Take: Trump’s 2020 Budget Spares DoE-funded HPC but Slams NSF and NIH

March 12, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, released yesterday, proposes deep cuts in many science programs but seems to spare HPC funding by the Depar Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Wins Mellanox Stakes for $6.9 Billion

March 11, 2019

The long-rumored acquisition of Mellanox came to fruition this morning with GPU chipmaker Nvidia’s announcement that it has purchased the high-performance net Read more…

By Doug Black

Optalysys Rolls Commercial Optical Processor

March 7, 2019

Optalysys, Ltd., a U.K. company seeking to advance it optical co-processor technology, moved a step closer this week with the unveiling of what it claims is th Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel Responds to White House AI Initiative

March 6, 2019

The Trump Administration’s release last month of the “American AI Initiative,” aimed at prioritizing federal R&D investments in machine intelligence, Read more…

By Doug Black

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This