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Server Specs: Data center wins environmental and uptime certifications

Highmark data center goes green; AMD hires top chip designer from Intel; Congress debates visas for foreign tech workers; and IBM sets licensing for Sun's UltraSparc chip.

Data center wins environmental and uptime certifications

Pittsburgh, Pa.-based healthcare insurance company Highmark Inc. built a new data center that received a Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Highmark data center, designed by Baltimore-based architectural/engineering firm RTKL Associates Inc., processes up to 500,000 claims a day and

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connects more than 100 hospitals and 15,000 healthcare providers. The sloped, two-story, 90,000 square-foot facility hosts 28,000 square feet of data center and had previously received a Tier-3 certification from The Uptime Institute. LEED certifications are awarded along a five-point scale that evaluates a building's site sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Among other strategies to reduce demand on the local utility network, water needed to cool the data center is collected from the roof, filtered and treated, and stored away in the event of a supply outage. Fannie Mae's Urbana, Md. data center achieved LEED Silver in 2005.

AMD hires top chip designer away from Intel

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has hired away from Intel Inc. one of its high-ranking Itanium processor designers, as well as eight of his colleagues. Samuel Naffziger, holder of 62 U.S. patents on processor circuits and architecture, was formerly circuits and technology director for Itanium, a high-end processor developed by Hewlett Packard Co. and Intel that has gained as much or more attention for its bungled releases as for its potential as a workhorse. Naffziger led the Itanium design team for eight years. He introduced the "McKinley" version in 2002 and "Montecito'" in 2005. Now a senior fellow at AMD, Naffziger will work on next generation processor designs, officials say.

More visas for foreign tech workers?

A U.S. Senate committee is moving to nearly double the annual cap on temporary H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers allowed to enter the country -- from 65,000 to 115,000 next year. President Bush has endorsed the idea alongside companies like Microsoft, which has called upon Congress because it says it often cannot find enough qualified native workers to fill high-level technical jobs. But opponents say more immigrants would hurt American workers, and members of the House are signaling they will not approve the plan. As well as limiting an expansion of the cap, some House representatives have advocated checks, such as requiring employers to promise they will post jobs for Americans first, as well as certify they are not replacing U.S. workers with foreign ones.

IBM sets licensing for Sun's UltraSparc chip

IBM has set its licensing policy for running software on systems powered by Sun Microsystems Inc. multicore UltraSparc processors. Servers with four- and six- core T-1 "Niagara" chip configurations now require two licenses, while eight cores require three. The cost of software licensing on servers has gained higher visibility in correlation to the success of multiple cores and virtualized environments, which can help businesses get more bang for buck out of their hardware. Savings could, however, be eaten by licensing fees that increase per core or per virtual machine. IBM's middleware products currently licensed on a "per processor" basis will continue to be licensed by core -- defined by a spokesperson as "the independent functional unit that interprets and executes software instructions."

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