01 May 2008

Big blue wants to be big green

The costly mainframe technology was ditched out in the 90's in favor of x86 based server platforms but global warming considerations give a significant TCO advantage to large systems according to IBM. The company has performed several surveys regarding the energy efficiency of IT systems and is coming up with results that fully support their green computing approach.

Nearly 60% of the total energy consumption of a computing system is dedicated to cooling.

The remaining 40% are mainly used for powering peripherals (70%) and the CPU (30%).

When taking a closer look at the CPU, it turns out to be idle 80% of the time. Indeed, the processor activity rate is only 10% for a x86 Microsoft Windows system, 25% for a x86 Unix system but can reach up to 75% for a mainframe system.

Beyond these technical facts, IBM research have come up with calculations that have a much greater marketing impact :

  • A single search request on the internet affords for the electrical comsumption of a 70W bulb in a year

  • An avatar on Second Life requires as much energy as a middle-class brazilian

A Gartner study says information technology was responsable for 2% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions last year - equivalent to all the planet's airlines combined.

Big blue strategy to address the market is three-fold : better cooling, enhanced hardware design and last but not least virtualisation.

Find out more about the greening of corporate data centers on the Raised Floor blog and on the IBM website.