Going green – Ways to Reduce Power Consumption in Corporate Environments

Today, not only computer density is swelling, but they are getting in use more hours per day than ever before; with paper losing the hold of everything. With energy cost soaring day by day, reducing power consumption is becoming more important than ever. Moreover, some of the today’s most pressing green-issues are pushing businesses to hunt down ways to contain the corporate power-appetite.

Engineers all over the world are mutating IT devices, desperately trying to salvage every mill watt they can. Inevitably, the results are applausive, but it is even more interesting to know that some of the most novice-level tweaks can even cut the energy requirement by up to 25% However, the companies (mentioned in the context) designing these green-gadgets claim that their products can reduce the requirement to up to 65%.

A Couple of User Administrative Tweaks Include

  • Replacing CRT monitors with LCD has developed into somewhat of a rule to reduce the electricity bills. This point does not need any elaboration.
  • For those still using CRT monitors, Google claims that turning the desktop backgrounds (plus any thing that can be) to black helps reduce the power required (The phenomenon in case of LCDs is still contradictory). Yes, a single computer cannot make a significant impact, but for businesses running hundreds of them, or at least on a global level, the saving can mean something.
  • Till date, Google claims to have saved Approx. 1357680 watt-hours globally; all through the black interface of Google Search called ‘Blackle’ (www.blackle.com). Blackle was launched in January 2007.
  • A couple of side-applications over the internet like ‘CO2 Saver’ (co2saver.snap.com) are available which reduce the PC’s power consumption whenever possible. These applications automatically adjust the Windows Power Settings to control the monitor, CPU and Drive powers when they are not being actively used.

Hardware Twists

D-Link came up with a couple of imposing ideas to turn the power meters down. However all the products the company is manufacturing are solely not their propriety innovations. Several other companies also offer comparative solutions. Anyways, some of the most talked about solutions are:

Link-Down mode

Link-down mode enabled switches remove power to each port that either does not has a workstation connected or that the it is turned-off.

Measure-and-Minimize approach

The ‘Measure-and-minimize’ technology enables the switches to adjust power according to the length of cable between the switch and the node; ultimately decreasing power consumed by the switch itself. Since shorter lengths require less power, the maximum rated power is delivered only to nodes with maximum cable length. For instance a 20m cable requires only 38% of the power required by a 100m cable. A traditional switch will uselessly deliver the maximum power regardless of the length of cable.

Green Drive-Management

Conventional hard drives constantly keep spinning even when they are not under a potential use. More than a PC, this proves more energy inefficient with NAS (Network attached storage) systems. Green drive-management systems are effectively Green over two different faces. Firstly, because they power down the constant spinning whenever the drive is inactive. Secondly, powering down the device over intervals not only saves power at that instant but elongates the device’s life limiting the CO2 contribution to the environment for making a new one, and dumping the old one.

Smart Fans

As in the case of hard drive, cooling fans run in a very similar fashion; i.e. needlessly. Fans in networking equipment (specially with servers) run constantly regardless of their need. Green technology makes use of smart fans (similar to CPU Cooling Fans) which can alter their speed according to the temperature.

Intelligent PoE (Power over Ethernet)

PoE allows power to be carried over the same cable used to carry data in an Ethernet network. First of all, this eliminates the need of a separate power cable. Second of all, the system energy efficiency is drastically improved.
The technology is ideal for powering more or less all Ethernet based devices including IP phones, remote switches, Wi-Fi hotspots, webcams and public information displays (LCD notice boards in a more general terms) to name a few.
As backed by Cisco, PoE is a very power efficient model since it kicks the ‘DC Adapter’ out of the grid. Research reveals that a DC Adapter consumes 30-40% of the operating power even when in standby mode (no load attached).

Switchable Indicator LEDs

All the networking devices have a couple of blinking LEDs associated with their functioning. These LEDs are usually required during installation and network diagnostic. Otherwise, they aren’t. But yes, they still blink.
The idea of switchable LED panel (LEDs that can be turned off when not in use) seems to be a bit absurd. The point is because they themselves are very power efficient, and switching them off will cutoff a very small portion of the very small amount of power required by most of the devices holding them. Still researchers at Allied Telesis claim that this 2% power cut of the device will benefit big networks in a long run; couple of years.