Intel is promising to ease the problem of spiralling power consumption in datacentres.
The company is developing "low utilisation" server technology which it said could deliver up to 24% power savings. Intel estimated this could amount to £55,000 in savings annually for enterprises with 500 servers.
Power supply is a major concern in the construction and operation of a datacentre. The more electricity a server farm consumes, the more heat it generates. This requires extra air conditioning for cooling, which itself consumes more power.
Richard Fishera, vice-president at Forrester Research, said system power consumption and cooling was now an issue for many mainstream datacentres.
One user who experienced a power shortage was Richard Steel, head of ICT at Newham Borough Council. Steel found he had an electricity shortfall when he upgraded the council's datacentre to Hewlett-Packard blade servers. "We had to get a lot of power into a small space and we knew the new location would need an electricity sub station," he said.
A survey earlier this year of 122 IT directors by analyst firm Gartner found that insufficient power was their main concern with the facilities required to support their primary datacentres.
One of the big shifts in Intel's strategy revealed at last week's Intel Developer Forum was the need to address power consumption issues. Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said significant decreases in computers' wattage consumption could save billions of pounds in electricity costs globally.
The chipmaker began focusing on power efficiency in 2003 with its Centrino mobile platform, but last week's announcement expanded the focus on power efficiency beyond notebooks to cover desktops and servers as well.
The Intel roadmap will introduce a range of processors next year, spanning server, desktop and mobile systems, providing users of 32-bit systems with more power at the top end, and moving notebook users further towards Intel's stated goal of a full day's battery life by 2008.