Energy efficiency pays its way in the datacenter
Talking Tcase, watts, and bucks with Lenovo’s GM of HPC and AI
Sponsored Post Over the past decade, the heat generated by server CPUs has increased by 3.5X and now is pushing 500 watts. GPU heat is up by 3X to 700 watts, typical server DRAM memory is up by 4X to just shy of 300 watts, and network adapters are up by 4X to around 60 watts.
All of these chips are getting bigger, too, as we need to pack more performance into a socket or a slot, but it is also at the same time getting harder and harder to extract that heat from the devices as chip makers lower the case temperature, or Tcase, of the integrated heat spreaders on devices. And, to top it all off, the compute density in racks – particularly for HPC and AI systems that are typically loaded up with the fastest compute engines – is rising, making power density and heat not only an issue at the socket or slot level inside of a server, but also at the rack and row level in the datacenter. It is so bad that fans – which don't do anything useful computationally – are accounting upwards of 20 percent of server power in these systems.
Something has to give, and for many years now, Scott Tease, general manager of HPC and AI at Lenovo and a long-time HPC executive at IBM, has contended that in many cases the thing that has to give is air cooling. And hence Lenovo has been on the cutting edge of liquid cooling in the datacenter, and is seeing that investment pay off as companies hit the power wall.
As part of our Energy Efficient Datacenters Week we spoke to Tease about all of these issues as well as the fact that electricity costs are getting so high – particularly in Europe – that moving to the latest-greatest server technology, which offers better performance per watt, even if the server is burning hotter, pays off. The payback is faster the higher your electric bill is in the datacenter.
All of this feeds into sustainability, which is top of mind of datacenter operators these days for social and now economic reasons. Tease does the math for us, and also explains how Lenovo's Asset Recovery Services also take a cost – the disposal of old IT equipment – and turns it into cash for its server and storage customers.
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