Proving Efficiency of New vs Older Servers at DCW Frankfurt

Techbuyer’s KTP Associate Nour Rteil and IT Director Rich Kenny gave a joint presentation and live demonstration of ground-breaking research into optimizing lifecycles at Data Center World Frankfurt in November. They proved that with the correct reconfiguration, older servers can outperform new with certain workloads. We caught up with Nour to give an overview of the process.

Over the past 5 months I have been working with Techbuyer on a 2-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project in collaboration with the University of East London to benchmark the energy efficiency of new and refurbished servers and determine the potential energy saving opportunities from reconfiguring servers.

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to present our research and snapshots of our initial findings at Data Center World Frankfurt. We also conducted live comparative benchmarking of new and refurbished servers throughout the event. With no control over the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.), we had a realistic environment in which to prove the robustness of our results.

We chose the server energy efficiency rating tool (SERT) developed by SPEC, a leading organization in benchmarking, to benchmark the efficiency of the servers. The tool delivers first order approximation of server efficiency and is currently adopted by the US Environmental Agency Protection for their Enterprise Servers program. SERT suite is composed of 4 workloads: CPU, memory, storage and idle. Each workload (apart from idle) is composed of a group of processes designed to stress certain aspects of the server under test. For each process, data is reported for a set of load intervals (10, 25, 50, 75 & 100%) and the total values are calculated as the geometric means across all loads and processes, resulting in a balanced overall server efficiency score.

Our initial findings exposed the massive energy efficiency increase from obtaining balanced memory configuration. The optimal memory configuration depends not only on the total memory capacity, but also the number of channels populated and types of DIMMs used. Our research is still on going and we plan to run further experiments to study the effect of storage devices and PSUs on energy efficiency and performance. We also plan to extend this research further to include the impact of software changes on energy efficiency. Experiments will be done across multiple servers from several manufacturers and different specs to validate the analysis and support our conclusion. Ultimately, we aim to find the optimal configuration for any server to increase its performance while saving on power.

At the end of this 2-year initiative, a data center energy efficiency modelling tool will be created to model the efficiency of servers in data centers, paving the way for greener infrastructure. This would be perfect for data centers shifting to use sustainable solutions considering that IT load - specifically servers - are the major power consumers in data centers and accordingly should be utilized as efficiently as possible. 

Techbuyer is a global leader in the buying, selling and refurbishing of data center equipment. We are commited to providing sustainable technology to businesses, colleges and organizations, and we also have an ITAD service which enables companies to sell their redundant hardware to us for competitive prices. To find out more about our sustainable approach to IT hardware, check out our refurbished servers.