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Data Centres Council Concerned about EU proposals

The UK Council of Data Centre Operators is very concerned about European Commission proposals under the EcoDesign Directive, to impose power limits for idling servers…


The data that powers and enables our digital economy is processed, stored and managed by computer servers, which may be located in purpose built facilities (data centres) remote from the businesses they support, or in-house in server rooms and cupboards (distributed IT). Currently, activity is moving away from the distributed model and towards consolidation, because larger facilities offer far better energy efficiency, as well as security, reliability and other economies of scale. The market share of distributed IT is therefore declining whilst that of commercial data centre services is growing. Commercial services range from colocation, where customers lease secure space for their own servers and the data centre operator just runs the infrastructure, to offerings like cloud and software applications, where the customer buys services from the operator who owns and manages the IT hardware.


Servers come in many shapes and sizes and the current trend within the data centre environment is towards fewer, larger and more powerful devices with higher processing capacity. These deliver economies of scale because one large machine has the processing capability of multiple smaller machines but a lower energy footprint. This trend is driven by increasing demand to compute data, by consolidation of IT functions and by cost considerations because these larger machines are more energy efficient (work per unit of energy consumed), require less space, less cooling, fewer parts and impose lower burdens on infrastructure.

Proposed power thresholds for idle servers

Draft proposals being developed under the EcoDesign Directive, include maximum thresholds for power use by servers when in idle2 mode, motivated by an objective to minimise unproductive energy use. Data centre operators fully support the Commission’s intention to improve efficiency and eliminate poorer performing machines from the market. Removing the bottom 25% is in everybody’s interests: it levels the playing field for manufacturers, customers buy with more confidence and energy consumption is reduced. However, setting idle power limits is not the way to decrease total server energy consumption. The best way to reduce unproductive energy use is to increase utilisation through consolidation and virtualisation. 

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