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US Data Centers Wary of Sharing Energy Data With Feds

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the wouldn't-you-be dept.

Power 101

1sockchuck writes "The EPA has been seeking at least 100 data center operators willing to share data about their energy usage to help the government develop an Energy Star program for data centers. Thus far, only 54 data centers have signed up, which suggests that few data center operators are eager to tell the government exactly how much energy they are using. The EPA issued a report to Congress last year on data center power usage, and is already developing an Energy Star program to rate servers. Can a program designed to rank the energy efficiency of appliances and computer monitors be a useful tool in addressing the enormous energy consumption of data centers?"

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101 comments

chicho valreddrez (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504476)

don't touch my butt crack, because if you do i'll rip off your nutsack

Re:chicho valreddrez (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504560)

That's not what you said last night.

Re:chicho valreddrez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23505448)

That's what she said

!evil, just no trust (2, Interesting)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504492)

Some people dont share data with the gubmints not because they are evil but because they dont trust the government. Rank the efficencies of data centers? Cant the people who own/run the energy centers do that themselves? You know, read the labels on the devices and such?

Re:!evil, just no trust (3, Insightful)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506878)

You know, read the labels on the devices and such?
To some degree, but some possible improvements would require a standardization mandate. For instance, I was reading here a few years ago that Google can make (or get made) hardware to their own specifications, and they save an awful lot of power by using strictly 12V DC to the motherboards, if not the whole boxes. They were advocating for the rest of the industry to do that, but if you run a data center and can't buy the hardware to do that, you're out of luck.

Re:!evil, just no trust (1)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 5 years ago | (#23517056)

They were advocating for the rest of the industry to do that, but if you run a data center and can't buy the hardware to do that, you're out of luck.

You know--rather than a government mandate to get that hardware out there, how about demand?
Seriously--if I could purchase devices that consume DC power and I could get DC at my house CHEAPER than I could go the whole AC route, I'd do it--especially if saved me money too.

That's probably why data centers don't want the government involved. The government tends to do stupid stuff like mandate things that no one wants, needs, finds useful, or saves money.

Re:!evil, just no trust (1)

Wild Wizard (309461) | more than 5 years ago | (#23514718)

You know, read the labels on the devices and such?

If they have a decent power distribution board they can get an instantaneous readout from that.

Targeting one industry for it's power usage is a bit dumb. For instance I work in a fairly normal sized supermarket which pulls 415Vx3 at around 400A on each, so how many supermarkets are there around the world?

And if you want worse, here in Australia and other countries with large mining operations, the mines and other associated industries can pull the entire output from an average sized power station just for their own operations at a single site.

BHP's Olympic Dam mine will need half SA's electricity [news.com.au]

54% response rate (1)

QuantumPete (1247776) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504522)

They've already gotten 54 out of 100 data centres. There are countries with a lower percentage of voters at the ballots! Besides which, I'm not surprised at this at all. No-one can be horrified at your electricity bill if you don't advertise it (especially to the EPA).

Re:54% response rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23505234)

You need to work on your quantum calculator some more. If they were looking for 100 but found only 54 that's not a 54% response rate.

Few? (3, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504544)

So 54 data centers responded out of "over 100"? That seems pretty good to me. How many of the rest just didn't know how much energy they used, or couldn't be bothered to look it up?

Re:Few? (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504634)

I agree. Also, how many more would like to respond, but are stuck in red tape, or a form that needs to be signed off in triplicate is sitting in a pile on someone's desk?

Re:Few? (2, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505578)

Or they don't want the environuts to start showing up with pikes and torches ...

Seems a reasonable fear to me.

Re:Few? (4, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504640)

saddly i know the power useage of one data center that would not be reporting in.. lets put it this way.. based on the farm usage they turn off power to other floors in the building.. not to conserve power but because the main line coming into the building is their bottle neck

Re:Few? (5, Informative)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504678)

Are reasoning and math lost skills, even on a site tagged "news for nerds"?

They are seeking "at least 100 data centers" to participate.

It DOES NOT SAY that they asked 100. They have put out a general request for datacenters of 1000 square feet or more.

So, out of all the data centers in the US that are over 1000 square feet, only 54 have agreed to participate. That is NOT 54/100 or 54%, it is a drop in the bucket, and it does seem to indicate a reluctance to participate. Although it could just as easily be apathy.

Re:Few? (3, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504894)

I think you're referring to reading comprehension skills, not math and reasoning as such. Flying in the face of /. norms, I read TFA again. There is no mention of how many data centers were queried, though their goal of 100 responses could be used to guesstimate. Also, it says the plan is 1 year old and the data centers need to compile 12 consecutive months of energy usage and submit it before June 1. How the 54 other companies compiled 12 consecutive months of data in 11 months is conveniently left out, but perhaps there will be more companies complying with the request closer to the deadline.

Re:Few? (3, Informative)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505040)

I concede you are correct that it really is reading comprehension, not math or reasoning skills at fault here.

However, even RTFA-ing twice didn't give you a complete grasp. The article never mentions querying any data centers, just that they want them. They may have called/emailed/mailed to some, or they may have just put it up on the web and hoped.

Additionally, it says that the participants will begin collecting 12 consecutive months of data at the start of the program, "and submit the data by June 1, 2009." That's next year.

Re:Few? (2, Insightful)

nasor (690345) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505990)

Most of them were probably just too lazy to bother. I'm guessing that the information requested was a bit more complex than "How many kwh per month do you guys use?" The lack of replies probably has more to do with the data center people having better things to do.

Re:Few? (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#23511678)

I know a guy who owns a laundromat. The city did something and connected to his fire sprinkler system for water in the project through the outside port that lets the fire fighter inject a chemical that make a foam suppressant into the system. I forget exactly what was being done but they had to fill water trucks up to hose the dust down and the alternative was running a temporary line that blocked his parking lot whihc meant almost no business until whatever was finished.

After filing his taxes for the year, the IRS popped an audit and claimed he didn't claim all his income because for a laundromat of his size with X machines, water usage of Y amount would equal Z in sales. They have this down to a science. I guess courts use this sort of information to calculate income from coin operated machines and such too in divorce cases and other lawsuits.

Anyways, I think the hesitation might be the government saying you used X electricity, you had to of made Y in sales. It would make sense from a perspective I don't think many people are aware of. The guy I know had to get something from the City stating that they used the line with permission of the facility owner in order to get out of the trouble of paying extra taxes. It could also be like you suggested and it is just too much of a hassle. But this story popped into my mind as soon as I read the summery.

Re:Few? (4, Informative)

sabatorg (1279426) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504728)

As someone who has worked around and at several very large data centers including those who hosted servers for ebay, google, accenture, ford, honda, etc, I would suggest that it is very likely that the "rest" have a very good understanding of how much power they consume. Floor space is only a small fraction of the processes of determining server capacity. Power and cooling are the real limiting factor in any large floor space data center.

Re:Few? (2, Funny)

whoda (569082) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505276)

Of course, over 100 could be exactly 423827 data centers, in which case 54 kind of sucks.

Re:Few? (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#23511960)

> So 54 data centers responded out of "over 100"?
> That seems pretty good to me.

Indeed, I would consider a 54% response rate high for this kind of thing.

> How many of the rest just didn't know how much energy
> they used, or couldn't be bothered to look it up?

Or have better things to do than fill out silly questionnaires for Yet Another Pointless Government Study Destined To Accomplish Precisely Jack Diddley Squat? I know what my response would have been: after reading about half of the first sentence and realizing what it was, if the back was blank, I'd have tossed it on the scrap-paper pile.

I mean, seriously, what exactly has the whole "Energy Star" program accomplished so far, other than that certain models of motherboards display a superfluous logo that nobody cares about at boot time? It's not like people make hardware buying decisions based on the presence or absence of said logo.

I suppose data centers, since they use so *much* power, probably care more about power usage than ordinary consumers do, but do you really think they're going to be taking Energy Star status into account? Wouldn't they be more likely to throw the dollar value of the projected three-year energy consumption of the hardware into their decision formula? And if they're going to do that, they're probably doing it already. They don't need Energy Star logos to help them figure it out.

You want people to buy stuff that uses less power? Put an excise tax on electricity. It wouldn't be any more unpopular than the one on gasoline.

Transportation energy use is the key (3, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504680)

We should stop conflating energy consumed at fixed locations from the energy consumed by the transportation sector. We have enough energy in the form of coal, nuclear power, tar sands, wind, solar, cow dung and what not. Sure, there are problems and pollution and different costs and benefits for each of these sources. But the one big advantage they have is that, they don't make us dependent on fickle foreign powers in unstable regions. We are 100% self sufficient in the fixed-point-energy consumption sector.

But it is a completely different story when it comes to the energy consumed in transportation. There is no viable alternative to gasoline for cars, diesel for trucks and kerosene for the airplanes in the near future. Nothing. And all the crude oil we import goes to transportation.

The politicians are clueless dumb idiots who go through the motions of doing something, on the crazy logic, "we must do something, it is something so we are doing it".

Re:Transportation energy use is the key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504996)

You are the one confusing the two issues. If your outburst was prompted by someone thinking the two were linked, it would be understandable. The topic of electical demand is real, even if it doesn't excite you.

Re:Transportation energy use is the key (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506872)

Uh, coal and tar sands are kind of a real problem as there are huge impacts on the environment both from mining them and from using them. Probably 90+% of the new capacity brought online in the last 30 years has been coal, and much of that growth has been to power electronics. Datacenters and corporate computers are a non-insignificant chunk of that. I know my datacenter for a midsized company probably draws as much power as the homes of all of the IT staff combined. Transportation is only 28% of the US energy puzzle, and as long as we keep relying on dead plants we are going to have a problem, coal that isn't used to needlessly power datacenters today can be turned into synthetic oil in the future. Hopefully not for transportation but for plastics and pharmaceuticals, where it is used as a feedstock rather than for energy production.

Re:Transportation energy use is the key (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506894)

"But it is a completely different story when it comes to the energy consumed in transportation. There is no viable alternative to gasoline for cars, diesel for trucks and kerosene for the airplanes in the near future. Nothing. And all the crude oil we import goes to transportation."

Well, you're right for now. While we're starting to develop alternative fuels...let's try to get past the ECO-freaks out there, that won't let us drill for our own oil, in our country!! China is drilling in cuban waters just off the coast of FL...why the fuck aren't we drilling in the lucrative oil fields offshore of FL, NJ, CA...?? Why do we only drill in the Gulf near LA, TX and some of MS, that is insane. We have very high tech when it comes to offshore drilling...and it is very safe for the environment.

If we could get past the eco lobbies...we could start drilling for out own oil to help relieve the need for foreign imports...we could start building nuke power plants (and for God's sake lets drop the laws that prevent us from using breeder reactors to get more power out of the fuel, and expend it as much as possible)...and those two things alone would help buy us some time till viable alternatives come about.

We do need to get off the oil teet of the middle east...once we can do that...fuck'em, let'em do what they want over there...and we can get our asses out of there and not have to deal with them any more. Why do we buy so much oil, when we still have plenty to drill for in the US and off our coasts?

Re:Transportation energy use is the key (3, Interesting)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 5 years ago | (#23507642)

Well, you're right for now. While we're starting to develop alternative fuels...let's try to get past the ECO-freaks out there, that won't let us drill for our own oil, in our country!! China is drilling in cuban waters just off the coast of FL...why the fuck aren't we drilling in the lucrative oil fields offshore of FL, NJ, CA...??
I believe, it is because when the rest of the world is tapped out, there will still be quite a bit in "environmentally protected" areas that will be used to retain world superpower status long after everybody else goes back to riding behind horses.

It's a long term strategy.

Re:Transportation energy use is the key (2, Insightful)

dave562 (969951) | more than 5 years ago | (#23508056)

Why do we buy so much oil, when we still have plenty to drill for in the US and off our coasts?

If you subscribe to the theory that oil is a finite resource then you are better off consuming everyone else's before you tap your own.

Re:Transportation energy use is the key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23514342)

"Why do we buy so much oil, when we still have plenty to drill for in the US and off our coasts?"

To save your own oil to be used when everybody else's oil is depleted.

Might not have anything to share (3, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504720)

I'm not really surprised. I've seen decent sized data centers (100-500 machines) that did not track their power usage. They might not have any data to share with anyone anyway.

Re:Might not have anything to share (4, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504958)

They probably still have some power bills sitting around.

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505058)

That don't include anything else?

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23508920)

I guess it depends on what you call a data center and what you call a server room.

If a whole building is dedicated to a data center, there really isn't anything else to include (because the lights in the building and so forth are part of the data center).

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 5 years ago | (#23514936)

Yeah but that's too much leap of a logic for most people to make. Saying we do not track our power usage so we have no data stops the thought there, as opposed to sayin hey, someone else tracks our power usage, and who would that be? The power company sending us the electric bills! Duh!

Re:Might not have anything to share (4, Insightful)

penguinbrat (711309) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505066)

This may be a dumb question - but what's wrong with reading the electric bill for the place? The DC's I've been in or a party too - EVERYTHING connected to the DC or in it, had a purpose solely devoted to keeping the servers up and powered, one way or the other.

Re:Might not have anything to share (2, Interesting)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505594)

One place wasn't a dedicated data center. There were corporate offices of a handful of companies in addition to the one that owned the building. One of those companies ran their own small datacenter (100 machines or so) an the company that owned the building ran 2 (different departments). The amount of power their own used were estimated, and they just ran UPS's that ran over that. The company that ran their own datacenter also paid on an estimated basis of the total amount of power they used. Large portions of the building that were not associated with the datacenter were also on the UPS/Generator in the event of a power failure. They didn't track how much power per circuit was used and they didn't track how much each of those rooms used. They had a big, overall picture.

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

bazonic (463550) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505776)

but what's wrong with reading the electric bill for the place?

That would work well for DCs that are self contained. Most of the DCs I've been in are part of a campus or a building that is all on the same grid, so determining what is being used just by the DC would be a project.

Thus far, only 54 data centers have signed up, which suggests that few data center operators are eager to tell the government exactly how much energy they are using.

I don't know about you, but our business, and I would venture to guess many US businesses, are understaffed and over worked. If someone came to me asking for this data, I'd have to tell them to take a number and get in line behind the 4,397 other projects that are in my queue. The tinfoil hat guys might not want to share it because of privacy, and I get that, but for us it would really be a time issue.

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

Collapsing Empire (1268240) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506010)

You have some major issues if you can't take five minutes out of your day to read the KWh usage from your electricity bill.

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

bazonic (463550) | more than 5 years ago | (#23509770)

Well, I do have major issues, but I don't think that's what you meant.
 
I can take 5 minutes, or 5 hours to read the electricity bill, if I had to. The problem is, which you seemed to miss in my post, our building gets one bill for electricity. Inside that building we have a dozen heavy printing presses, cardboard crusher, electric lift trucks that get charged nightly, lights, security system, etc. etc., and yes, a data center.

It's all on one bill. How the fuck am I suppposed to tell how much the DC is using by looking at the bill? We'd have to rewire and split our bill. That would take more than five minutes. That is what I don't have time for. Especially for some voluntary government survey.

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 5 years ago | (#23513760)

Not sayin you have time for it (hell I don't even have time to be posting on Slashdot), but, assuming all your Data Center equipment is thru a UPS, most UPS's will give a readout of power usage, many of them will even log it.
In most place I've worked on, I've been involved in designing Building Automation Systems that connect to the UPS's, etc., relay alarms to the proper people, gather histories on usage, and generally monitor and control everything in sight (or hidden).

Re:Might not have anything to share (5, Insightful)

Enry (630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505074)

I hope you're joking

Data centers have to know how much they're using as they have to have sufficient UPS backup to keep their systems running in the event of street power outage.

Groups that maintain these data centers also wind up paying the electric bills, so even if they don't know how much is actually in use at ant single point in time, it's pretty easy to look at a few bills and see what the usage over the past 30 days were.

Yeah, that would be nice (3, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505570)

Our data center had a catastrophic failure last year when the generator test failed and the operators didn't notice they had no power until the UPS died 15 minutes later. Absolutely everything lost power, and we spent the day recovering systems from various messy states. The exception was our Tandem, used for our clinical system, which was kept alive by a series of D batteries powering the CPU. We used to make fun of those D battieries, but never again.

In any case, our data center is part of a larger facility and while it's easy to report on overall power use for the facility, it's mixed in with so much else that it's hard to get a good estimate for power use by the data center alone. As we found out the hard way, the UPS wasn't adequate for downtimes longer than 15 minutes. We've since made a big push to improve the UPS and reduce the number of physical servers in the data center (switching to virtual whenever possible).

Re:Yeah, that would be nice (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505830)

he generator test failed and the operators didn't notice they had no power until the UPS died 15 minutes later...We've since made a big push to improve the UPS and reduce the number of physical servers in the data center

Might I suggest you replace your Engineering Staff as well? If your "operators" didn't notice their generator wasn't online and that you were on batteries, they have no business being anywhere near a data center.

Re:Yeah, that would be nice (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506528)

Oh, I'm pretty sure the operators were duly chastised. Like any disaster, there were several opportunities to notice the issue and correct it, but sadly they didn't happen. There were other failures, such as when the diesel generator didn't supply power to the data center. The operators also sit in an area outside the data center, and I suspect the beeping UPS didn't get heard through the big glass windows.

Re:Yeah, that would be nice (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506956)

Yeah, that's why when I worked for Cisco we had multiple strobe lights and a very loud alarm (think fire alarm loud) outside of both doors to the datacenter, kind of hard to miss those. Of course where I am now we just have the transfer switch and UPS email and page us whenever there is a power event.

Re:Yeah, that would be nice (1)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23507278)

Our data center had a catastrophic failure last year when the generator test failed and the operators didn't notice they had no power until the UPS died 15 minutes later.

My computer was on the building UPS. One day I am working away, and the computer power went off.

Shit, I thought, the mains went off. Then I remembered I was on building UPS, and I also realized that other machines NOT on the UPS were still working.

Then my power came back up. We rushed to the server room which had also gone off and recovered the servers.

A few phone calls later, and it seems that building maintenance was trying to find out which breakers were attached to which plugs. They were doing this by turning off the breakers at the panel and testing plugs.

A nice memo was sent to building maintenance...

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506804)

An electric bill for the last 30 days (or last year) probably isn't fine enough to be of much use. Probably, in order to design useful standards, the power usage would need to be broken down between what the servers use, what the storage uses, what the cooling demand is, lighting, etc. They probably also would like to correlate that with usage data like: how many processes running, pages served up, GB in and out, and so on.

I wouldn't be surpised if there was some format(s) that the EPA needs this data in. If people just threw random electric bills at the EPA, there'd be no way to make any sense of it.

It is also important to note that the people who might have access to this data - the IT people, HVAC people, and building engineers, are almost certainly not the people who see and pay the bills.

Re:Might not have anything to share (1)

Enry (630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23515460)

It is also important to note that the people who might have access to this data - the IT people, HVAC people, and building engineers, are almost certainly not the people who see and pay the bills.
At my workplace, the data center expenses comes out of the data center funds, so while you're right that the HVAC person doesn't literally see the bill, the head of the department needs to know those numbers to stay on-budget. Whether the department head shares that with the staff...perhaps that is another question (in our case he does).

Re:Might not have anything to share (2, Informative)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505416)

The EPA isn't asking for existing data, but for them to start tracking for one year starting in June.

is this really necessary? (2, Insightful)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504772)

seriously? maybe someone should point out how little the people trying to regulate these understand about them. i can point to a few other sources of pollution that would be much better to reign in for their practices before starting to look at datacenters: warehouses that are entirely lit 24x7, universities that don't set their computer monitors to "sleep" after several hours of non-use or even leave all of their end-user systems up all-night every night. that's without even turning to the automobile industry

Re:is this really necessary? (3, Insightful)

Enry (630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505178)

An HPC cluster can easily consume 20+KW per rack. Across 5-10 racks (or more) per cluster. And that's not counting the AC that's required to keep the air cool.

While setting monitors to sleep mode and powering things off do help, data centers have a lot of power use in a small space. It's clearly in everyone's interest to reduce that power since it results in a lot of savings across the board.

Users can put in more systems per square foot, data center managers can rely on fewer UPS systems and fewer tons of AC, and the resulting lower utility bills is just icing on the cake.

Re:is this really necessary? (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 5 years ago | (#23511172)

i was considering a snide remark about how i know all of this, but then i noticed your uid is lower than my mortgage payment.

I can see the headlines now.. (3, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504780)

Computer data centers use too much energy. Next thing you know, Congressman will be up in arms, hauling data center leads in front of a good public beating, and then passing legislation to tax excess profits. What would happen next? Data centers leave the USA in droves, 1,000,000 jobs evaporate, and the USA loses yet another industry due to a government that is as malicious towards successful enterprise as it is incompetent.

Re:I can see the headlines now.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504890)

If you don't want to see that happen, vote Republicans into congress and the whitehouse (since this is slashdot, people will automatically assume that you are referring to Bush, since he must be the one at fault in all situations, so I had to point out that the dems are the ones who like punishing successful enterprises).

Whose Really Republican? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506742)

If you don't want to see that happen, vote Republicans into congress and the whitehouse

Hmmm. Here's the thing. The great irony of American politics is that despite Liberals being aligned to Democrats and Conservatives being aligned to Republicans, it is the Republicans that have actually passed most of the liberal legislation over the last 40 years.

Check this out:

Richard Nixon (R) - Clear Air Act, Clean Water Act, EPA

Jimmy Carter (D) - deregulates the transporation sector. His 1b loan to chrylser would later be dwarfed by the massive bailouts of savings and loans, and financial institutions under Bush I and Bush II.

Ronald Reagan (R) - signed amnesty for all illegal aliens then in the USA, appoints first woman to supreme court

George Bush I (R) - Revises the Clean Air Act. Signs the Americans with Disabilities Act. Massive federal intervention to bail out troubled banks.

Bill Clinton (D) - Essentially adds little or no new regulation. Deregulates wall street. Cuts federal budget across the board. Raises taxes slightly in 1993 but repeals more liberal measures and then cuts capital gains tax later in term. Balances budget, encourages private investment that economy roars.

George Bush II (R) - signs massive energy bill with subsidies and incentives for alternative energy. Extends Medicare with prescription drug program. Doubles federal spending on physics and medical research, adds Sarbanes Oxley appoints first african american secretary of state, and, now the kicker, if the stars align right, Bush might be the guy that signs a massive cap and trade CO2 bill working its way through congress.

Which party ran the House and Senate? (2, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506984)

Those are the people in charge of writing legislation.

There is a healthy impulse to create gridlock in DC. A R president often means a D congress, and vice versa.

Re:Whose Really Republican? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23509112)

echo "Whose Really Republican" | sed s/whose/who\'s/
There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Whose Really Republican? (2, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#23512840)

You can cherry-pick all you want. In the end, the US government over the past 40-50 years has been defined by policies that would be considered "conservative" in most parts of the globe.

Much of the legislation you mention was either inevitable, the work of their predecessors, or had little to no impact.

That said, even though I don't particularly like Bush at all, he has had a small number of bright moments. His most recent Veto of the $288 billion farm bill was absolutely the right thing to do, even though republicans and democrats alike overwhelmingly overrode the veto to let their pork-barrel projects go forward.

Re:I can see the headlines now.. (2, Informative)

ericferris (1087061) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505096)

Exactly.

Plus, data center managers are generally busy enough to avoid yet another stack of forms to fill.

Finally, some DC managers barely know where the power is going. They see the power bill, they seem some automated power meter reading at key points such as power distribution units, but they cannot really tell you how much a machine, or even a rack, is consuming.

The problem with manufacturers' plates is that the power rating on the plates is ridiculous overkill. A rack-moounted server rated for 600 W on the plate might draw 500 W at start up, when all the fans and hard drive motors are going to max power consumption (electric motors consume more power when starting up than in normal operations). The rest of the time, the server might consume less that 400 W. So you need to drag the server to a lab where its power consumption will be tested under various conditions.

Baring this, the DC people practice the fine art of "de-rating", in other words, they make an educated guess about how much the manuf's plate is exagerated. This can be hard to explain to bureaucrats looking for precise answers for their surveys.

Re:I can see the headlines now.. (2)

segfaultcoredump (226031) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505846)

I went the other route: amp meters on all of the new in rack PDU's (we use the chatsworth vertical power strips and opt for the amp meter option). Its a bit more expensive, but not too bad when you consider the overall cost of what is in that rack.

This way I know exactly how much the rack as a whole is pulling. More importantly, I know that each of the PDU's in the rack is under 50% so that in case a power supply causes a short, I dont loose the entire rack due to a cascading failure. (I've seen it happen when folks use the 'outlets are available, thus the rack can support another server' mentality and a PSU goes really bad or they just simply overload the system. Easy to do with 110V feeds)

Based on the direct power readings, our 'de-rating' is based on what we measure rather than what the PSU says. So for us, we know a typical 2 proc dual core amd based server pulls 1.3A @ 208V (about 300w). A full rack of Sun 6140 arrays's? (14 trays total) that thing pulls about 22A @ 208V.

This also helps us plan how many circuts and what size to drop into each rack. We have found that for our server density, two 30A@208v feeds does the trick. (vs 4x20A or similar). This way we save on panel space, and that makes our electricians happy (rule #1 of the datacenter, do not annoy the HVAC guy's or electricians :-)

Re:I can see the headlines now.. (1)

ericferris (1087061) | more than 5 years ago | (#23507402)

Amen to that! With a little bit of luck, metered strips will become increasingly more common, saving everyone a lot of headaches. You would not believe what can be found in some DCs. Daisy-chained strips spanning multiple racks, redundant power supplies all fed by the same UPS, etc.

Out of professional curiosity, how does your DC manage to keep track of equipment status, installs and decommissions? Do you use a specific DC management package, or do you subscribe to the "ad-hoc spreadsheet on a shared drive" school of thought?

Re:I can see the headlines now.. (1)

segfaultcoredump (226031) | more than 5 years ago | (#23507766)

Keep track? hahahahah Its all up in my head :-)

We dont go through enough adds/moves/changes to make it worth the effort of tracking with anything more than a spreadsheet. Given that I've managed to cut the number of physical servers in half over the past 4 years (during which ime the number of services have gone up 10x) I dont predict the need for anything more specialized anytime soon.

I've seen some palces that turn over a a few doezn servers a day and they needed a management app to keep track of everything. I'm lucky enough to not require such complexity

The headlines will be stealthier than you expect (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 5 years ago | (#23507522)

The headlines will look like this one Air quality board to fine Bay Area polluters [sfgate.com]

Every data center that exists has a high carbon footprint. The San Francisco Bay Area is host to a myriad number of data centers that'll now find it convenient to relocate to a more hospitable environment or purchase indulgences in the form of carbon offsets.

When it comes to killing a golden goose, governments have no competitors. That goes double for state governments looking to fill a $15 Billion deficit. That goes triple for messianics.

The hell with the fact that the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis remains a hypothesis and is not a fact [examiner.com]. That won't stop the true believers from imposing their will on those of us who remain unconvinced they're right.

Re:I can see the headlines now.. (1)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#23508870)

Therefore, there is no value in the government's environmental agency knowing how much energy data centers are using.

Despite your beliefs, there are some things that national governments excel in. Surveys of issues of a national scope is one of them.

Slightly OT: I would love to know how much power the NSA datacenters suck down.

Re:I can see the headlines now.. (1)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 5 years ago | (#23514958)

I think a lot of the issues with data centers are about inefficient code. In my humble opinion, with no hard data, I feel that older MS software from the 2000-2003 days used to consume a heck of a lot less cpu cycles than the newer 2005-2008 dotnetizized/vistized versions that are just hogs when it comes to speed, and to get the same work done consume a lot more cycles and a lot more power. Maybe this will nudge the software companies to pay better attention to the fact that computing speed and efficiency also matters, not just security. The cpu companies seem to have done and are still doing their share of work when it comes to low power consumption, but it doesn't mean a thing if software has gotten so much worse that overall the power consumption went up for the same work getting done.

Google is large, but efficient energy user (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505000)

Google probably ranks as the largest data energy user, having by far the largest number of data centers and nodes (approaching 3 million). On the other hand they've almost always paid attention to energy costs (except for their bad, bad, white home page), building custom low-energy custom servers. They probaly also have the lowest per petabyte energy consumption of large data centers.

Re:Google is large, but efficient energy user (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23505430)

except for their bad, bad, white home page
White uses less power on LCD screens.

Re:Google is large, but efficient energy user (1)

retupmoca (932711) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505862)

White uses less power on LCD screens.
On most LCD screens. There are LCD displays that have black as least-power-usage.

Also, there are still quite a few CRT displays out there, and a CRT uses more power than an LCD in the first place.

Re:Google is large, but efficient energy user (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506066)

I was under the impression LCDs consumed a fairly constant power regardless of the displayed colour. All the color is the orientation of the subpixels, which control the colour levels let through from a constant source (CCFL or LEDs).

Re:Google is large, but efficient energy user (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506712)

White web pages don't change the difference in power usage of Google.

All it does is change the power usage of third parties who use Google on their OWN crt's.

Data Centers use a LOT of power! (4, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505008)

I have done a number of projects for a number of companies focused on power saving in the data center.

One company was building a fan control system to reduce the power used by cooling fans in the racks. We just had a Slashdot article about being more selective about load distribution and shutting down systems not being utilized for the load.

Data centers use redundant power which is more expensive than line power because UPS system are never 100% efficient.

To top it off, servers put out a LOT of heat. That is two types of load: The power draw of the server and the power draw of the data center cooling system.

Data centers are a prime target for green work, and I bet with a little development work you could EASILY cut the power utilization by 30%. Upgrading and replacing four older machines with two newer machines will cut power usage.

Maybe software efficiency is important again as doing more with less power is greener.

Re:Data Centers use a LOT of power! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506348)

Which is why a lot of them don't want to release this information to the governemt. Being placed on a bottom of the list because your company has a 10 year server replacement average vs. a 5 year or just because your server has more load then then the other guy with the same amount of equiptment. Giving information to the government is rairly to your advantage, so why do it if you are not forced.

We just got over the case of what to do with companies who allowed the government to spy on their customers and many people were out for corporate blood. why expose yourself when you dont have too.

105 Watt Max Server (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#23517800)

To top it off, servers put out a LOT of heat.

I'm too dumb to accept the conventional wisdom, so I've been prototyping a mini server that pulls 105 watts under maximum load (both CPU's at 100% and a RAID-1 rebuild, was how I defined 'max') and about 70 watts when mostly idle. It's 'only' a Core2Duo w/ 6MB of cache, but it's a 1.333 GHz FSB with memory clocked at half of that to minimize wait states, and that's plenty for the kinds of servers I usually need (web, mail, web database, etc.). If I need more I'll go wide; I think I can get 84 of these into a rack.

I'll be publishing a HOWTO, but for now there are just some pictures up here [iliaddevices.com]. Once I figure out what I think is a SuperMicro BIOS/linux problem and get the thing into production I'll finish the HOWTO.

Is. new MS one in Northlake IL that .. sub station (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505020)

Is the new MS one in Northlake IL that has it's own sub station on the list? You can see right off I-294 near the old Zenith sing.

There should of looked at a way to get some power off the 70 mph + traffic on I-294 right next to it.

Re:Is. new MS one in Northlake IL that .. sub stat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23505160)

Obviously you havnt been on 294 lately. Last time I saw 70 mph was November......damn construction.

Re:Is. new MS one in Northlake IL that .. sub stat (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505932)

I was on there 2 days ago going to IN Work zone 55 - 60 open parts with 4+ lanes each way 70+ the part going up to WI is bad.

The part by the data center is wide open.

Total = Sum of the Parts (2, Interesting)

natoochtoniket (763630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505102)

The total energy used in a data center is just the sum of the energy used in the various component parts. The components include the various boxes of electronics, the power supplies, the lighting, and the cooling.

Every data center operator is intensely interested in power consumption. The power and cooling cost real, serious money. Any reduction in that cost goes straight to the bottom line. And, we have finite power and cooling for the building, so if/when the needs of the various boxes exceed those limits, we have to do expensive and disruptive upgrades.

If every component part (computer, network switch, ups, monitor, etc.) were labeled with its power and cooling requirements, data center operators would use that information to select equipment that costs less to operate. In the life cycle of a piece of equipment, the electricity to operate it is a big part of the cost. When we go to buy new equipment, we usually have to choose from among several different units that could fit the purpose. The numbers that determine the operating cost absolutely would be used during that selection process.

A publicity campaign, like "Energy Star" could help us to paint the business "Green". But the numbers are what we really need to make rational business decisions.

Re:Total = Sum of the Parts (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506976)

If every component part (computer, network switch, ups, monitor, etc.) were labeled with its power and cooling requirements, data center operators would use that information to select equipment that costs less to operate. In the life cycle of a piece of equipment, the electricity to operate it is a big part of the cost. When we go to buy new equipment, we usually have to choose from among several different units that could fit the purpose. The numbers that determine the operating cost absolutely would be used during that selection process.
The nameplate electricity rating for a lot of equipment is usually inflated and overly conservative, representing the worst-worst-worst case peak load. Usually the equipment, even at what would be considered full load, is well below the nameplate rating. It's like saying your car has a 500-hp engine, when in reality it would take a trained driver on a racetrack to coax and demand that much.

The nameplate rating usually doesn't reflect the as-built configuration. Fill all the hard drive bays and DIMM slots, add that extra processor, and you might come closer to the nameplate. On the other hand, if you don't fully populate the chassis, how useful is that nameplate going to be?

It might the case where datacenter designers are starting to consider electricity and cooling in total-cost-of-ownership when deciding between equipment. In the past, however, it was usually just how much did something cost upfront, because datacenters require lots of upfront capital and energy was cheap. That's why so many computers have abysmally inefficient power supplies - they're cheaper upfront.

Re:Total = Sum of the Parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23513000)

Power Requirements == Cooling Requirements.

Thermodynamics :-D

The new 32 nanometer processors use less power. (2, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505140)

"... enormous energy consumption of data centers"

That is one of the few world problems that is already being solved. Intel and AMD and others are working on the next generation of processors, that use less power: Intel Says Chips Will Run Faster, Using Less Power [nytimes.com]. Intel is currently delivering processors built on 45 nanometer rules. (At that size, there are perhaps 1000 transistors in the width of a human hair.)

They are working on a 32 nanometer process [wikipedia.org], which has already been demonstrated. The next after that is 22 nanometers [wikipedia.org] and then 16 nanometers [wikipedia.org] and 11 nanometers [wikipedia.org] as the Wikipedia articles say. The smaller conductor width rules use smaller transistors which use less power.

At the same time, they will make processors with wider silicon wafers, 18 inches wide [zdnet.co.uk] rather than the 12 inch wide wafers they use now. The smaller devices and larger wafers mean that there will be many more processors per wafer, making the costs go down.

What these companies are doing is VERY impressive.

The companies have not been as good at proposing new uses for the greater processing power. Data centers need the greater processing power as well as use of smaller amounts of energy, but where else is more processing power needed? Will grandma's octo-core cell phone of the future not just report the weather, but calculate it? Will games use full ray-tracing?

I suspect that the greater processing power is needed, but all the needs haven't yet been discovered. To me, that's a very interesting problem.

Re:The new 32 nanometer processors use less power. (1)

Justarius (305126) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506040)

What Intel and AMD don't tell you, however, is that while they shrink die size and increase performance (and increase performance != increase in GHz), they turn around and tell system manufacturers that the TPD is lower. For example, the 5300 Xeon family from Intel topped out at a 120w for most bins (there were a few 150w pieces at the end) and their thermal design was 60c. The 5400 Xeon family might use 120w top bin, 80w on the average bins - however, they lowered the TPD to 55c, meaning the system makers had to turn around and invest in different cooling strategies - meaning part of that savings in CPU draw came back as cooling costs for fans or specialized heatsinks (like the vapor-chamber heatsinks on certain blades, where this game is much more important).

Gut feeling: even though you might see a 20% - 25% drop in power draw from one family to the next, you real gain is probably more in the 10% - 15%. No numbers to back this up, just my gut feeling from doing consulting with a large number of clients.

Of course, those numbers are assuming you're running the system at it's top speed, there are tools out there that allow you simulate SpeedStep (to put it in words) on server CPUs, which lack that. If you adopt a power regulator like that, which can dial down the GHz rating on a server CPU by varying it's voltage, for all the servers that run applications that are seldom used after hours, you'll save a buttload (yes, that's a technical term) of cash in power costs, you'll be able to dial down your A/C at night as well, and be more green.

"60 degrees Centigrade" (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506226)

"their thermal design was 60c"

That slowed my reading until I realized that it means "60 degrees Centigrade".

Wary, or Don't Care? (4, Insightful)

scrib (1277042) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505194)

What's in it for the data center? Of course they're not "eager" for new tasks on their To-Do list!

"Hi, we'd like you to generously share some internal data and in return we'd like to give you responsibilities and guidelines about how we'll let you give your data to us! Sweet deal, right?"

Presumably they are paying their power bills and thus have some incentive to take "reasonable" steps toward conservation. The government will need to use a carrot or a stick to coax this information from a busy business. I'm surprised simply announcing an interest in the information has netted as many responses as they've gotten.

Goverment intrusion? Spyware? (2, Interesting)

likes2comment (1021703) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505204)

Perhaps a lot of the datacenters are more leary of "homeland security" putting spyware, etc in their datacenter. Once you let the goverment in to take a look, who knows how much further they will want to go.

In other news (3, Funny)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505208)

Over 50 data centers have given into government demands for private data. There is wide speculation on why so many data centers have willfully fallen under the sway of the government. There are rumors about bribes involving lowering energy costs. How many more data centers will cave? Is your data safe?!

Ignored like a credit card application (3, Interesting)

EnOne (786812) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505260)

There are probably at least Two reasons that this was ignored 1) The form letter from the Government was ignored like unsolicited credit card application. 2) The data center in question needs their people to work on projects instead of collecting information for said Government.

Re:Ignored like a credit card application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23509604)

3) Many large data centers being 'stealth' buildings that don't admit that they exist. With no signs on the front gate, maybe the mailman couldn't find them to deliver the survey (or he wasn't allowed in ;-)

Also, it's not clear this is the biggest problem (3, Insightful)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505760)

Data centers themselves are actually (somewhat) easy to figure out - and to figure out how to conserve power, at least to some extent. Nobody's going to do unless they were planning to anyway, or have a financial motive. But at least it's a central location, you can identify where the power is going, etc. It's going to happen over time as the cost of energy goes up, more than likely. One major reason for inefficient data centers is actually a lack of money - you don't get the budget to rip and replace, so you have to keep tacking things on.

So the EPA likes it because it's tractable. But in many organizations, most IT-related energy use is actually at the edge - factoring in thousands of computers, monitors, printers, edge switches, wireless access points, VOIP phones or digital handsets (a simple analog phone on-hook uses almost no power), etc. Dozens of computers in an open office area adds a significant amount of heat that has to be removed. And as more and more equipment runs uses Ethernet and TCP/IP, you need more and more network switch ports, often delivering PoE. I think a lot of organizations are going to end up pointing fingers at their IT departments because they can identify the cost, and it's easier to blame one group in one location than to face the fact that everyone's incremental usage adds up to significant numbers.

Re:Also, it's not clear this is the biggest proble (1)

dave87656 (1179347) | more than 5 years ago | (#23514338)

I agree completely that the bigger issue in corporations is the energy used by the end-user. When you add up all the desktops using 200+ watts plus local printers etc, it really adds up.

I think there is a real future for thin-clients and some sort of centralized resources in the future, at least for larger departments and corporations. The costs of maintaining 100's or 1000's of PC's with licenses, administration, maintainence and energy costs is huge. If you can reduce that by thin-clients and virtualized servers, you could save a lot.

From ZDNet:

"The recruitment company, Reed, for instance, has reduced its PC power use by 80 percent by replacing 4,500 PCs and 400 laptops with 'thin-client terminals'. "

http://news.zdnet.com/2424-9595_22-200543.html [zdnet.com]

54 out of ??? (1)

Klinky (636952) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505840)

The article does not mention how many companies the FCC asked. It only mentions how many they had hoped would sign-up and how many did. So I wouldn't say it's such a good turn out.

Here's Your Chance (2, Interesting)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 5 years ago | (#23505936)

OK /.ers, how would YOU categorize or classify data centers to provide a little more sanity|classification|taxonomy to this generic study? For example:

Transaction Processing Center

High Performance Computing Center

Corporate Support Data Center

Web Host or ISP Data Center

Search Engine Data Center

Have at it.

Of course they already know ALL of DCs usage -TAX! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23506406)

People, of course the feds know how much energy the datacenters are using, they know how much TAX they are paying on all of their utilities -- it's simple.

1000 sq ft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23506494)

sounds more like a Dat Room than a Datas Center

We want data to regulate you (1)

Smilodon (66992) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506936)

I think some of the data centers (or more correctly, the companies who operate them) may have some reluctance because of the potential regulation this may create...

1) Gather data from volunteer data centers.
2) Establish "Energy Star" rating.
3) Use "Energy Star" rating to regulate how big datacenters can be, what kind of layout they must have, etc., etc.
4) Demand that any company bidding on government contracts must be "Energy Star" level 5 or whatever. New regulatory branch to monitor all this...

In general the data centers probably feel no good can come from it. Energy is getting more expensive every day. There is an obvious profit incentive to use less of it to operate your datacenter. This needs no government regulation.

Re:We want data to regulate you (1)

dave87656 (1179347) | more than 5 years ago | (#23514300)

Or, perhaps these companies are reluctant because they are worried that the government might eventually want to know more than just their energy usage.

Once the door is opened, then it's only a matter of "preventing terror" to demand access to the actual data being transacted and stored.

Cops, come and try to snatch my crops (1)

mrvis (462390) | more than 5 years ago | (#23507178)

Like anyone paranoid about their power bill, they are growing weed. A data center would be a great place to stash a grow room. No one to notice tons of power being consumed.

Universities and Government Data Centers (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 5 years ago | (#23507514)

There have to be at least 100 Universities and Quasi-governmental data centers that could be coaxed into giving this information. Most universities take many federal grants, and companies like Freddie Mac, and Sallie Mae are heavily regulated.

Energy Usage (1)

dave87656 (1179347) | more than 5 years ago | (#23514288)

I decided to check my energy usage on my desktops (two) and my laptop. What amazed me was just how much wattage the Desktop was using when you add the monitor and external 2.1 speakers. It was around 220-250 watts.

What was even more amazing was that the laptop and router together were only using 35-40 watts. It's also interesting to watch the power usage go up temporarily when the CPU is exercised and then to see it drop immediately back down. How do they get a laptop with a 15.4 screen and speakers to use that little juice?

is this really necessary? (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 5 years ago | (#23515418)

As someone who has worked around and at several very large data centers including those who hosted servers for ebay, google, accenture, ford, honda, etc, I would suggest that it is very likely that the "rest" have a very good understanding of how much powe
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