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Utraspeed pioneers green datacentres using new hybrid servers

Warwick Ashford

Managed hosting provider Ultraspeed is reducing its datacentre power consumption by 40% with a green initiative that combines direct current (DC) power with discless servers.

"Alternating current (AC) power is used in virtually all UK datacentres, but DC power is almost 20% more efficient," said Jordan Gross, commercial director at Ultraspeed.

By using DC power, 20% to 40% of the thermal load is shifted outside the server to the AC-DC converters. This increases server reliability by as much as 27%, allows for higher density server environments and reduces power consumption.

According to Gross, many datacentres in London are facing power shortages, with modern servers drawing three times as much power as they did in the 1990s.

"We as an industry need to become more conscious of our power consumption and create sustainable datacentres. Reducing consumption directly is better than some unverifiable carbon offsetting scheme that is open to abuse," he said.

Switching to DC power enabled Ultraspeed to reduce its datacentre power consumption by 30%. The extra 10% saving was achieved by developing servers that run without a hard drive and use low energy processors.

"Discless servers generate less heat, and therefore less power is needed to cool them," said Gross. In an AC environment, for every 100W used to power a server, an additional 60W to 70W is needed for cooling.

Ultraspeed created its discless servers by putting the operating system and data on a remote storage area network. "This is not only more energy efficient, but has also brought hardware replacement times down to 15 minutes in the event of a failure," said Gross.

Makers of DC powered servers have reported power savings of up to 65% in datacentres using low power processors.

Analyst firm IDC said it believed using DC power in the datacentre could cut costs and improve the reliability of critical IT environments.

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