Use CUPS and save on data centre energy costs

Thursday, 29 January, 2009


The concept of compute units per second (CUPS), is a relative measure of server output, based on average server performance. Using data from multiple industry sources, Emerson has calculated the change in CUPS between 2002 and 2007, providing a common server performance measure required to calculate efficiency. Data centre professionals can experiment with CUPS relative to their own data centre in an online efficiency calculator available at www.efficientdatacenters.com.

Data centres with their huge energy consumption are a major cost centre for many companies. Even smaller computer rooms can draw massive amounts of expensive energy if they're not optimised. Until now, there hasn't been one universal metric with which companies could measure the relative efficiency of their computer rooms and data centres. There have been several 'standards' and benchmarks published over the years, but none have taken into account the exponential savings at each stage in the data centre. Savings in the power draw of a blade server have a measurable down-the-line impact on the total power draw, something Emerson has coined the 'cascade effect'.

Emerson has now used its Energy Logic framework, launched in 2008, that gave companies a step-by-step framework for reducing energy consumption, and added the CUPS tool that will specify a universal metric that could apply to any data centre anywhere in the world to measure the relative cost-saving 'rating' of data centre equipment, design processes and infrastructure.

According to Emerson, CUPS uncovers an important fact: while data centre energy consumption has risen in recent years, these increases have been accompanied by dramatic gains in output and efficiency. If data centre output had remained flat between 2002 and 2007, the efficiency improvements achieved would have cut 2007 data centre consumption to one-eighth the 2002 consumption. 

To promote industry discussion and debate towards development of an agreed-upon approach, the extended Energy Logic framework offers three criteria that an efficiency metric should meet: it should drive the right behaviour; be available and published at the IT device level to help buyers make the right choice; and be scalable from the IT device to the data centre level.

APC, an integrated critical power and cooling services company has made available its TradeOff Tools, web-based applications with easy-to-use interfaces designed for use in the early stages of data centre concept and design development. By enabling data centre professionals to experiment with various scenarios regarding virtualisation, efficiency, power sizing, capital costs and other key design issues, the TradeOff Tools break down major data centre planning decisions into a series of smaller, more manageable decisions. Use of these tools helps validate, through modelling, the overall design of a data centre.

A measurable ROI based on a universally quantifiable metric can only encourage investment and further the goal of energy efficiency in the data centre.

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