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Green Grid hones PUE data center efficiency metric

The Green Grid will address data center energy-efficiency issues at its annual forum, including power usage effectiveness (PUE) calculators, powering down unused servers and more.

The Green Grid held its third annual Technical Forum in San Jose, Calif., this week. The nonprofit energy-efficiency group will cover topics such as efficiency metrics, free cooling and reusing waste heat. talked with Christian Belady and Jon Haas the forum. Belady is a Green Grid board member and treasurer and a principal infrastructure architect at Microsoft. Haas is the vice chair of the Green Grid's technical committee and director of eco-technologies at Intel Corp.

What are the main themes of the technical forum this year?
Christian Belady: We'll be talking about three main things. First, calculators and tools. There will be discussions and presentations around the power usage effectiveness [PUE] tool and an efficiency estimator. On the education front, we're kicking off a new course with our academy. And then alliances. What you've seen is there is much more around collaboration across organizations than a year ago. Among those is with ASHRAE and Data Center Pulse.

The Green Grid will present a PUE calculator. The U.S. Department of Energy has its DC Pro tool, and I your show agenda also features a power efficiency estimator. Is that too many tools?Jon Haas: I don't think there's ever a time when there are too many tools, though it can be confusing to pick which one to use. The DOE's is a high-level tool to give you places to start looking for savings. The power efficiency estimator is really to look at power topologies and allows you to do comparisons across different topologies and architectures so you make the right decisions.

I don't think there's ever a time when there are too many [data center energy-efficiency] tools. 

Jon Haas, director of eco-technologies,Intel Corp.

Has the Green Grid made progress in developing a unified productivity metric [which measures overall productivity of a data center, not just its energy efficiency]? Is it possible?
Belady: If you look at the year forward, this is a challenge for the industry as a whole. Is it really just one metric, or is it multiple metrics? I think it's all up in the air. Part of the reason for this forum is to get this dialogue going. That is our challenge going forward: to drive a common set of productivity metrics or a metric.

What are partial PUEs?
Belady: The thought is that the industry is changing. Some vendors are taking fans out of servers. Some are selling container data centers. A containerized data center might have a data center PUE, and a container PUE. You can start dissecting the total PUE into these smaller pieces.

There will be talk of unused servers at the forum. Are data center operators ready to power down unused servers?
Belady: I think this is an issue that everyone is working toward, and ultimately the most sophisticated users are looking at it. It has a lot to do with asset management -- who is using what when -- and a good decommissioning process. The point of this study is there is huge savings if you can find a mechanism to actually shut down servers that are obsolete or beyond their useful life.

There will be a session on re-using waste heat?
Haas: We're going to address that with what we call a reuse factor for waste heat to allow it to be accounted for. It won't affect the PUE score unless you're somehow re-using the waste heat in the data center.

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at

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