EPA and DOE’s Energy Star® Seek Comments on Proposed Energy Measurement Protocol

August 21, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Star® program are seeking commentary on a proposed energy management protocol. As part of its efforts to improve the energy efficiency of computers and other electronic products, the EPA has sponsored two meetings this year on energy efficiency in the data center. Out of these meetings grew an effort to define an energy measurement protocol for the simplest and most commonly used servers, so that purchasers of these servers could compare the energy use of such equipment on a consistent basis.

The measurement protocol does not create a new performance metric. Instead, it describes how manufacturers can add energy measurements to existing performance metrics, thus sidestepping the argument about which performance metrics are "better". The end result will be a standard "power curve" that shows the wattage of each server at different load levels with which server purchasers can compare the energy performance of equipment from different manufacturers. Currently, there is no easy way for server purchasers to create such a comparison. This protocol will help to inform end users so that they can make smart purchasing decisions based on energy efficiency, in addition to other performance metrics.

This effort has been a collaborative one between technical experts from the server manufacturing industry, including representatives from Advanced Micro Devices, Dell, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, and Sun Microsystems. Other participants include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Stanford University, Rumsey Engineers, the California Data Center Design Group, and the Uptime Institute.

This group of technical experts is now seeking comments on the measurement protocol from a broad cross section of the data center industry, particularly from large server purchasers, user representatives, energy measurement experts, and data center operators. Comments are being collected until September 25, 2006.