EU to study energy use by data centers

The European Commission is considering introducing a voluntary code of conduct on energy efficiency for data centre operators.

Next week, the Renewable Energies Unit of the Commission’s Joint Research Center will meet in London to discuss the idea.

If adopted, a code of conduct would be voluntary, said Antonia Mochan, spokeswoman for the science and research unit of the Commission. Those organizations that adopt it would agree to abide by certain principles or standards, she said.

The London meeting will include a session on the technical capabilities for reducing data centre energy use and what a code of conduct — if one is to be adopted — should include. Participants will include hardware manufacturers, including Intel Corp., data centre designers and data centre operators.

The Commission has made few regulations about computer energy consumption, said Kevin Fisher, Intel’s standards and regulations manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, earlier this week.

Environmental agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, which placed limits on greenhouse gas emissions for countries, are driving government interest in reducing energy consumption, Fisher said. Enterprises are interested in reducing utility costs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program is used internationally as a specification for energy-efficient desktop computers, but the specification does not address servers.

Part of the problem is a lack of metrics for establishing efficient server power consumption, although several efforts are under way, Fisher said.

The Standard Performance Evaluation Corp., a nonprofit group based in Warrenton, Virginia, is developing a first-generation benchmark for evaluating the energy efficiency of servers. The benchmark will measure energy use in conjunction with performance metrics.

In December, U.S. President George Bush authorized the EPA to study data centre power consumption. The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab at the University of California is also study energy issues with servers, and a report is due to the U.S. Congress in June, Fisher said.

The Renewable Energies Unit meeting is a day after the UK Energy Summit organized by Datacenter Dynamics at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London and will be held in the same venue.

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