Corollary to Moore’s Law: Power & Cooling Claims

Note from Lionel: 1/22: This post was originally published earlier this morning, and it was supposed appear on the Direct2Dell home page. Due to a publishing error, it only appeared in the tagged categories. Fixing that now…

"We plan to slash energy consumption in our PCs by 25 per cent by 2010!" I wanted to continue the conversation around this idea.  [See my previous blog post.]  These kinds of claims sound great, don't they?  But do they really qualify as innovation, or more importantly, are they meaningful?  As consumers we hear advertising claims all the time, and vendor claims to IT people are no exception.   So let's dissect this claim and use an example.

In 1965 Gordon Moore showed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled at a rate of about every two years since the integrated circuit was invented.  That trend, which has remained accurate for more than forty years, came to be known as "Moore's Law".  This idea of exponential growth in transistors has historically been used for exponential growth in performance of the systems in which they are used.  But increasing performance typically means consuming more power.  That is why some companies have chosen to look at the two factors together – power and performance – and apply their resources in a truly innovative way.  The question might not be whether you can cut energy costs.  It might be whether you can get more performance for the same power.  Or more performance in less space. 

So a company that says they can "slash" energy consumption by only 25% by 2010 is really not providing leadership because they are only looking at one component of the equation. Why wait so long? Intelligent design from truly leading companies can provide benefits now.

The market has a strange herd mentality to claims like this.  Buyers think the companies who are making the claims are leaders.  The media soaks the claims up as news.  But claims are just that, only claims, until they are actually delivered.   So let's talk about facts because they have been already delivered by Dell, and are in actual use today by customers.

A few months ago you might have heard my presentation at a Gartner event.  Called "Unlock Your Hidden Data Center," it used existing technology – Energy Smart servers, virtualization, and new forms of cooling – to deliver today a 97% increase in workloads within the same facility power envelope.  So how did we get this kind of result?  We approached the power issue holistically, taking into account the equipment, utilization rates, how equipment is cooled, and how these all can work together in a synergistic way.

So a mixture of virtualized, multi app, and single app servers (Energy Smart blades and standard servers) delivered a data center that was filled with 1614 new servers supporting 4629 extra workloads.  This resulted in a performance increase of 97% within the same facility power envelope.

When can you get these kinds of solutions?  Today, but apparently only from Dell.  So future claims are exciting, but what is being delivered today is even more exciting. 

What are you seeing out there that is truly innovative?  I'd be interested in hearing what you have been finding, and would be happy to place an objective engineer's mind to advertising claims.

About the Author: Albert Esser