One of the biggest potential sources of cost and power savings in IT is on the desktop, Dell is telling customers.
One of the major misconceptions about IT power is that the desktop is not important, said Jon Weisblatt, senior manager in Dell’s product group.
Partly because of this, the use of power management functions that send PCs and laptops to sleep when not in use is statistically insignificant, according to Dell.
But the power consumed by desktop hardware is far from statistically insignificant.
If people were to reduce desktop power consumption by just 30%, they would save 56bn kWh of electricity every year. That’s enough electricity to power the whole of Switzerland, Weisblatt said.
That calculation is based on an IDC estimate that there are around 400 million PCs and laptops on the planet, which collectively consume 180bn kWh of power each year.
Alongside a lack of awareness of the dollars and kW being burned on desktops every night, there is another reason why power management functions are very seldom enabled. This is that IT departments are worried about their effects on end-users, and on their own activities, such as the after-hours distribution of software updates to desktops.
Never mind that wake-on-LAN has been a part of power management for several years, it is simpler to simply leave the PCs powered up, Dell said.
There are of course power savings to be made in the data center. Dell said that just before a recent server consolidation project in its Austin, Texas data center, about 40% of total power consumption there was being taken by the IT equipment itself, 30% by the power distribution systems, and 30% by air cooling and conditioning.
Of the power consumed by the IT gear, 60% was taken by servers, 22% by storage, and 18% for networking gear.
Within the servers, 30% of power was driving the CPUs, 20% was consumed by the power supplies, and the rest by the rest of the systems in items such as fans and voltage regulators.
When it comes to that hefty slice taken by the PSUs, Weisblatt warns customers not to be fooled by some vendors’ claims.
Suppliers can play games with PSU power consumption. They can move things out into different areas, and then the system looks less efficient. But at the end of the day it’s about how much power is being sucked out of that socket in the wall – that is what it’s all about, he said.
Late last year Dell began shipping a series of servers the company claims consume around 25% less power than rival kit for the same performance, as a result of the selection and matching of components with leaner appetites for power.
So far the majority of sales of these Energy Smart servers have been made to SMBs, Weisblatt said. Dell suspects that this is because in small businesses the person who pays the electricity bills is the same person who chooses the computers.
Lots of enterprise customers have been buying one-sies and two-sies, and kicking the tires. Now they’re beginning to place large orders, especially in North America and Europe, Weisblatt said.