CIO Green Forum 2011 turns (low-energy) spotlight on green tech

13 Apr 2011

So I've spent the day at probably the smartest hotel I've ever visited, the Sofitel in Munich, where I am attending the Samsung CIO Green Forum 2011.

My room runs over two floors, and the electric blinds sweep underneath the glass windows that span a whole wall and half the ceiling if I flick a switch next to the bed.

There is also a 'light wall' on the first floor which glows red, green and yellow, and is frankly terrifying, and the lift automatically remembers my room number.

The in-room entertainment system is operable using several dials; one of which is in the bathroom, while a second is in the en-suite loo and a third next to the front door.

It is ironic then that amid this hotel's smorgasboard of power-sapping technology, the conference intends to provide CIOs with information around its efficient use with a view to reducing carbon emissions.

The conference has focused particularly on how smarter memory chip technologies have a defining role to play.

The efficiencies discussed have been related to the provision of cloud services, the in-house datacentre prior to a move to the cloud, and how the memory in the server itself can help drive efficiencies.

Speakers have included representatives from Microsoft, SAP, as well as the OECD and the United Nations, with the central theme in all cases being the need to use energy-efficient technology.

Rick Bakken, senior director of datacentre evangelism, global foundation services Microsoft, explained in a complex presentation that Microsoft is working hard to reduce the PUE in its datacentres.

PUE is a metric used to determine energy efficiency of a datacentre and is worked out by dividing the amount of power entering a datacentre by the power used to run the computer infrastructure within it. It is therefore expressed as a ratio and overall efficiency improves the closer the quotient is to 1.

Bakken explained that the company was aiming to reduce its datacentre PUE to 1.04 down from 1.25 in 24 months.

As well as using water to cool its datacentres as it currently does, Bakken explained it would also be looking at fuelcell and underground technologies in the near future.

The giant is now rolling out its fourth generation datacentre which is modular, based on a pre-fabricated building and a series of commoditised components.

The conference has also examined the sort of refreshes an IT department should make prior to its move to the cloud, and why.

Alan Priestley, marketing director, server and cloud, Intel EMEA, explained convincingly that proactive server refreshes had proven the largest driver of value and energy savings with Intel itself, saving the company $250m in eight years.

In addition, Moore's Law, which states that a technology doubles its capability every two years, means that a company that last updated its racks in 2005 could now replace 15 of these with one system, leading to a 95 per cent reduction in energy consumption.

The final presentation looked at chip technologies themselves, with Myung Ho Kim, vice president of global memory marketing at Samsung, detailing the ecological benefits of its new 30nm green DDR4 Dram technology.

Kim explained that the technology can achieve data transfer rates of 2.13Gbit/s compared with the 30nm DDR3 chip at 1.6Gbit/s. It also uses a technology called Pseudo Open Drain (POD), which uses half the electric current of the DDR3 chip.

Nicola Brittain, News and Analysis Editor, Computing

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