Green technology could be a partnership away, AMD CEO says

A stronger partnership between government and industry is needed to achieve more energy-efficient computing that will have a positive impact on every computing device from handhelds to supercomputers, Hector Ruiz, the CEO of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) told participants at the FOSE trade show here today.

The government and industry can work together to address the challenges of global climate protection by offering better energy-efficient computing, he said.

A recent study on the vast amounts of energy consumed by data centers illustrated the need to find effective ways to reduce that consumption, Ruiz said.

In 2005, U.S-based data centers ? including servers, cooling and auxiliary equipment ? consumed 4.5 billion kilowatts hours, resulting in electric bills that amounted to $3 billion. "To put this into perspective this is equivalent to 5,000 megawatt nuclear power plants, making the U.S. the hungriest consumer of data center power on the planet," he said.

AMD is making strides to provide more energy-efficient computing through its next generation Opteron microprocessor and various computing initiatives, he said.

Marty Seyer, senior vice president of commercial business and advanced solutions with AMD's cross group marketing division, gave an outline of what the company is doing to move toward a greener computing environment.

Seyer said that there are energy-efficient features built into the company's quad-core processor, named Barcelona, which will debut in mid-2007. These capabilities fall under the umbrella of AMD's Power Now technology.

For instance, if a personal computer user is doing a read not write function, Power Now can turn off the write circuitry. "That's significant. We have the ability in different parts of the core itself to power down logic that you're not using." This will provide dramatic energy savings, he said.

Barcelona will also speed up functions such as virtualization, the ability to run multiple instances of operating systems on the same platform, Seyer said. This will enable organizations to reduce the number of servers running in data centers. For instance, AMD has been able to reduce the number of servers in its data center from 135 to seven using virtualization.

Seyer also pointed to key initiatives that will let customers use specialized processors to address specific needs, such as Torrenza, which will allow innovative accelerator vendors to integrate their technology with AMD processors; and Fusion, which will integrate graphical processing units with computing processing units.

Ruiz noted that AMD has formed the Green Grid, an initiative that brings together companies whose technologies form the eco-system of data centers. The aim is to find ways to bring about more energy efficient computing. That is only part of the equation, though. Government should be a big partner. As a result, he lauded the work the Environmental Protection Agency has done with its Energy Star program to help agencies identify products that are energy efficient.

"The era of green computing has begun," which has presented opportunities for better government and industry partnership, Ruiz said.

Rutrell Yasin is a staff writer for Government Computer News, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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