Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Power Businesses Earth Google Microsoft The Internet

Microsoft, Google Battle Over Energy Efficiency 164

1sockchuck writes "Microsoft and Google have opened a new front in their battle for global domination: data center energy efficiency. Just weeks after Google published data on the extreme efficiency of its previously secret data centers, Microsoft says it has achieved similar results with shipping containers (despite Google's patent) packed with up to 2,500 servers. The geeky benchmark for the battle is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), a green data-center metric advanced by The Green Grid. Microsoft says its containers tested at a PUE of 1.22, while Google reported an average PUE of 1.21 for its data centers, which apparently are also now using containers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft, Google Battle Over Energy Efficiency

Comments Filter:
  • Containers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by psergiu ( 67614 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @05:52AM (#25451033)
    If they care so much about being "green", are they using recycled containers ?
  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @05:54AM (#25451039) Homepage

    OK so if you have a PUE of 1.2 then five-sixths of the input energy is used to power the computer equipment. But that doesn't say how energy efficient the machines themselves are. You could be running 150W Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors, or whatever, and still get a higher 'efficiency' than someone using Atom processors giving the same computational speed with lower power usage.

    In the old days I would have suggested that Microsoft was limited to x86 processors and so they would necessarily have higher power usage than Google, who would be free to use more power-efficient architectures like ARM or PowerPC. But I get the feeling this isn't true nowadays. In servers and high-end desktops, do Intel x86 chips now offer the best bang per watt?

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @06:18AM (#25451163) Homepage

    PUE is a rubbish metric for this. The definition is nothing more than "power at utility meter" / "power used directly by IT kit". There's no account of WHAT that power is doing. Is it running one PC or a thousand? Is it hitting Gigaflops or nanoflops? You could put a laptop without a battery into a datacentre and get a PUE better than someone who has a thousand rackmounts all running at full speed. All PUE measures is the efficiency of the power conversion gear and associated equipment (e.g. UPS, etc.). In fact, UPS is an interesting measure too because the PUE of kit with a UPS would be greatly hindered in PUE stakes even against otherwise identical equipment.

    Now, "Total Teraflops / Power at utility meter" - that's a more accurate metric to be comparing. And I'd guess that there Google's containers would wipe the floor with MS's (unless, of course, some trickery is being done in the TFlops measurement - you would have to carefully define what's needed). And even then, throwing a bucket load of low-power ARM processors running Linux into every square inch possible would probably thrash even Google in those stakes (unless they already do that?).

    If you're going to have a contest over a metric, at least understand the metric and its shortcomings before you start claiming that X is better than Y.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @06:51AM (#25451325)
    Just send your Data-Center to the province of Quebec (Canada). We have Hydro electricity aplenty. Heck, if you go North enough, you won't even need an AC in the server room.
  • Re:Geography (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @07:19AM (#25451467)

    Since it is mostly irrelevant where a data center physically is,

    well, "near a high-capacity internet link" is a pretty big issue for datacenters, and AFAIK the main reason datacenters are still being built in stupid places.

  • Yep (Score:3, Interesting)

    by marcosdumay ( 620877 ) <> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @07:25AM (#25451507) Homepage Journal

    It is a written rule of journalists, they economize the amount of letters in a headline. It makes sense with printed press, but at the web they should follow some different gidelines.

  • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @07:31AM (#25451549)

    The true energy savings happen at the source. We need to find ways to increase coal-to-electricity efficiency conversion to 90% or higher.

  • Re:Yep (Score:2, Interesting)

    by marcosdumay ( 620877 ) <> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @09:04AM (#25452207) Homepage Journal

    A headline at /. starting with "Google" and "Microsoft" won't tell you much. One starting with "Energy efficiency" would be informative even when chopped. When you design headlines to be chopped, their size are much less important, that is what I was refering when I said that on the web there are different rules.

  • Re:Containers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sustik ( 90111 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @11:31AM (#25454329)

    > That's why I'd wish we'd tax the Hell out of the most non-green businesses.

    It should not be (called a) tax actually: it should not depend on being profitable or not. When said company pollutes, dumps etc. then it should pay for the cleanup. The only shift we need is to realize that clean water, clean air, clean soil etc. is not free.

    In Europe they have a "product fee", supposed to cover the safe disposal/reuse etc. of the product at the end of its life. A step in the right direction. I would calculate how much does it cost to extract the various harmful/undesired (Pb, CO2, ...) by-products of burning gasoline and add that cost to the price. That would suddenly make cleaner burning fuel cells look much better. One may even consider reducing this fee for low emmission gasoline using vehicles in some form.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison