A New IT Power Equation

Michael Vizard

One of the things that has driven many IT organizations to distraction in the last year has been the power conundrum. Every time an IT organization wanted to add processing capacity or I/O throughput, they would come up against the issue of power consumption.

Basically, each addition to the data center needs to be fed power, but most data centers are up against the limits of their ability to draw additional power from the grid. Either they had to remove a piece of equipment every time they added something, or they had to build a new data center somewhere that had access to lots of power.

But as new processors such as the Intel Xeon 5600 series or the new BCM56840 Ethernet switch from Broadcom become available, it's becoming apparent that we're getting to the point where we can add a lot of processing and throughput without aggravating power consumption issues.

The Xeon 5600 series, for example, can add as much as a 60 percent boost in performance using 30 percent less power. Similarly, the new Broadcom switch is based on a single chip set that borrows many of the same power management capabilities as the latest generation of processors to reduce power consumption while providing 10GB of Ethernet throughput, said John Mui, senior product line manager for Broadcom's network switch business.

The combined result is that real costs of enterprise computing are about to drop, while the amount of processing capabilities expands exponentially. What business innovations will be derived from this new IT equation is still anybody's guess. But one thing that is for certain is that power issues are going to be less of a concern as we move to next-generation technologies built with energy consumption issues in mind.

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