Data Centers

The "Jolly Green" sleeping server

Can you imagine having smart servers in your data center that know when to sleep and work? Microsoft's newest project called Marlowe is looking for more efficient ways to turn servers on and off throughout the day and night.

Can you imagine having smart servers in your data center that know when to sleep and work? Companies such as Microsoft are looking for more efficient ways to turn servers on and off throughout the day and night.

Depending on your business model, you may have more uptime to your servers during business hours than you do at night. You may have a lull at the end of the day when people are going home and an increase in capacity when people arrive in the office in the morning. Imagine if you had a server that could fire up processors when there's an increased workload and put processors to sleep during lull periods.

Microsoft is doing just this by leveraging Atom chips, which use only 1/10 the power of a Xeon chip. The Atom chip can only do about 1/4th of the work of a Xeon chip, so this new project is also experimenting with what the right balance is of power consumption and computing power.

Let's take this a step further by adding the "Green" to it. You purchase a rack of blades and leverage virtualization. Microsoft or some other vendor creates a software that lives on the hardware layer that monitors workload and puts processors in sleep mode or hibernation mode depending on the workload. If the workload increases, the processors wake up to handle the additional stress.

This idea could save a data center thousands of dollars in energy costs. Not only would you be saving money by consolidating servers via virtualization, but you would save money puting your servers to sleep when not in use. It would be cool to know that your servers go to sleep so many hours per day or that you have the power to wake processors if you see workload is increasing. This would be sort of like a manual override button. You can let the hardware layer software wake the processors or override it and wake them yourself.

These sleeping servers aren't available yet, but I would imagine if this was possible today, many businesses would want these in their data center.

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