HP Beefs up Data Centers while Trimming Electric Use

HP's Thermal Logic portfolio promises to triple the amount of computer server gear that businesses can operate in data centers while cutting the amount of electricity used per machine by 25%.

Hewlett Packard on Nov. 3 rolled out new services aimed at trimming appetites of electricity-hungry data centers while beefing up the amount of computing power crammed inside. The world's largest technology company expanded a Green Business initiative that builds on an industry trend to cut electricity consumption in order to reduce costs along with climate-changing gases spewed by energy production. HP's Thermal Logic portfolio promises to triple the amount of computer server gear that businesses can operate in data centers while cutting the amount of electricity used per machine by 25%.

The company combines more efficient computer processors, transformers and cooling systems with software that lets IT department managers precisely cap the amount of electricity allocated to each server. The company also uses analytical tools developed in its labs and by EYP Mission Critical Facilities to study data centers and pinpoint where electricity is being wasted. "This is the first comprehensive tool of this type to enable people to get a true picture of where they are and what they need to do," said Peter Gross, chief executive of EYP, a data center design firm recently bought by HP. "The vast majority of data centers in the world are strongly inefficient because no one ever paid attention to that."

Packing more computer power into existing data centers and extending their lives helps the environment, and company budgets, by avoiding or delaying the need to build new facilities, according to Gross.

Pressure on data centers is increasing due to growing technological demands at companies and a trend toward "cloud computing" in which software programs are offered online as services.

New data centers can cost $200 to $300 million to build not counting costs of computers, according to Gross.

Industry statistics indicated that more than half of Fortune 2000 companies will spend more on electricity than on computer hardware in their data centers, which can use more energy than small towns. Nearly half of the electricity used by data centers goes to cooling rooms housing heat-generating computing equipment.

Data centers are increasingly looking to "on-site" generation by methods including solar electricity panels or private mini-power plants.

HP rival Dell says it is determined to become the "greenest technology company on the planet." The Texas-based computer maker announced in August that it had become "carbon neutral" by investing in green power and offsets. Dell was commended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for integrating green power into facilities and this year launched server power supply equipment that beats 2009 targets set by a Climate Savers Computing Initiative.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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