Efficient Tips for Minimizing Your Server's Electricity Bill
A big part of our ethos at TechMikeNY is environmentally friendly IT solutions and products -- and nothing speaks to that more than energy efficiency. Nobody wants to have an electronic gas-guzzler – especially when you're the one flipping the bill!
Here are some helpful tips on how to minimize home server electricity usage. We'll also provide some high-level thoughts into specific topics such as low voltage RAM and Low Power Processors, providing additional insight into the ins and outs of maxing the efficiency of your server.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Lower the Energy Usage of My Server?
A big trend in IT is making systems as energy efficient as possible, and server manufacturers have emphasized this in their product lines over the past couple of years. Here are some valuable resources and tips:
- Energystar.gov. The site has a wealth of information on Energy Star ratings, tips to minimize energy usage not just for servers but computer equipment in general. You can check out their homepage on Enterprise Servers here to see which units are Energy Star rated.
- Make sure to utilize all of the power efficiency settings on your server. HP has provided a full technology brief for power efficiency and power management of their ProLiant line. Dell has provided a similar white paper doc for its PowerEdge Line. You can see the HP doc here; Dell's here.
- SSD Upgrades. While the literature is conflicting on whether SSDs are more energy-efficient at peak-draw than HDDs, there is no question that SSDs offer a significant improvement on start-up efficiency and considerable energy savings in the long term. Not to mention, the read/write speed for SSDs is significantly faster, so you are getting much better efficiency on the same task compared to an HDD/mechanical drive. If your volume requirements are high and the cost is a concern, remember, there are always hybrid drives – which take advantage of the cache capability of flash/SSD while using the volume availability of platter drives.
- Don't forget about PSU's and UPS's. Use energy-efficient Power Supply Units and if it's available on your UPS unit, make sure it's running on "Eco-Mode."
- Low-Voltage RAM and CPUs. Install Low-Voltage RAM and have a Low-Voltage CPU energy efficient server. More on that below!
Low-Voltage RAM. What Is It All About?
Low-Voltage (LV) RAM is defined as a RAM module rated at 1.35 or even 1.25V (compared to a standard RAM module rated at 1.5 volts). Low-Voltage RAM has been around for a while now and is advantageous – not just because of the lower energy consumption – but also because it is considered more stable due to generating less heat. A cursory look at Enterprise-grade/server RAM shows most modules are now LV.
Can I mix non-LV RAM with LV RAM?
As a general rule and Best Practice, you always want to keep RAM modules the same specs. It just reduces so many of the possible variables – latency, timings, etc. – that could cause the RAM to work at anything less than its peak performance (or not work at all and wreak havoc on your system).
That said, Low Voltage RAM is backward compatible – meaning if the system board doesn't support it and it is paired with non-LC RAM – it will still work, just not at the LV 1.35 – to 1.25V range. In which case, you are netting zero efficiencies from having Low Voltage RAM sticks in your system.
|READ ALL ABOUT IT! Questions/concerns about RAM compatibility? Our blog post on RAM Compatibility covers the basics of making sure you are installing compatible RAM in your system.|
What About Low Power Processors (LPP)?
Low Power CPUs are another trend in IT energy efficiency. While not as ubiquitous as Low Voltage RAM, Intel has an edition of LPP's in their Xeon processors (the most frequently seen CPU in the Dell and HP server lines).
You can determine if your server's processor is Low Power by the 'L' in the processor model's alphanumeric representation.
(You can read more about LPPs and the controversial topic of Thermal Design Power (TDP) on our blog post here.)
Will a Low Power Processor Negatively Impact Performance? What about Virtualization?
At first blush, less energy should be less processing power. However – as we saw with Low Voltage RAM, computer systems hate heat, and one of the advantages of less heat is a better functioning overall device. Furthermore, when it comes to VM's, they are already using an allocated portion of the total system resources. (Don't forget: the whole idea of VM's in the first place was from a place of efficiency. Why have an entire physical box – extra space, resources, and electricity – when the task can be accomplished with a fraction of the processing power within a single server?)
Yes, it does depend on what you are running on that VM, but on the whole, using a Low Voltage CPU should not be a decrease in performance.
|USE OUR RESOURCES! Our server guides provide some helpful data on typical rack server models & configurations. You can view our data on energy consumption here.|
- There are a plethora of resources – from Energy Star ratings and literature to manufacturer documentation – to help you achieve the maximum efficiency of your server and save some coin. Win-Win!
- Low Voltage RAM has a minimal negative impact on system performance – and may even improve it based on the decreased heat output. Just be sure to install the same make & model across the board to avoid errors from mismatched pairs.
- Low Voltage Processors can offer similar benefits in efficiency and decreased heat (a great analogy is to think of an energy-efficient car that gets more miles while running on less gas). You can always look up the specs and benchmarks of a particular Intel processor on their specifications page.
Do you have any energy efficiency tips for enterprise servers that we may have missed? Let us know! We love hearing – and learning more – from our customers. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.