by CIO Staff

House Passes Bill Authorizing IT Energy-Use Study

Jul 13, 20063 mins

Sun Microsystems and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation Wednesday that authorizes a federal government study on the energy consumption of computer data centers.

The bill charges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study energy consumption of servers in an effort to promote energy-efficient microchips and servers. The study would examine the potential cost savings for the federal government if agencies moved to energy-efficient computer hardware.

Chip maker AMD and Sun, which announced three server products Tuesday, cheered the House vote, saying it’s important for computer users to understand the energy costs associated with hardware. Both companies have been promoting energy-efficient products as alternatives to competing hardware.

The bill, which passed on a 417-4 vote, was sponsored by Reps. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, and Anna Eshoo, a Democrat representing part of Silicon Valley, Calif.

The total energy cost for servers and data centers in the United States is about US$3.3 billion a year, Eshoo said in a statement.

“The energy burden of these facilities will continue to grow rapidly, so it’s critical for government, industry and consumers to be able to identify the most efficient technology to meet their needs,” she added.

A 500-computer data center, using old equipment, can cost up to $1 million a year in energy costs, AMD said. One server can cost $2,500 a year to operate, and 10 million new servers are deployed worldwide each year, according to information from the company.

The bill will help raise awareness about the need for energy conservation even as U.S. consumers buy more and more electronic devices, said Steven Kester, AMD’s manager of government affairs. “Energy efficiency is one of the issues the U.S. needs to address in the current energy crisis,” he said. “This is the government recognizing the issue. It’s big stuff.”

The U.S. government and corporations can lead the charge on energy consumption, added Dave Douglas, Sun’s vice president of eco-responsibility. Sun is seeing a demand for energy-efficient hardware from environmentally aware customers, he said. In many cases, large customers are replacing several old servers with single, energy-efficient machines, he said.

“In a lot of cases, we can take a whole rack and replace it with a single box,” he said.

Just as kitchen appliances have energy cost labels on them and automobiles have miles-per-gallon stickers, computer hardware should be labeled with energy ratings, Douglas said. Customers buying energy-efficient hardware can save money and help the environment, he added.

-Grant Gross, IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)

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