The adverts for chip maker Intel’s latest multi-core processors are almost breathless with excitement, as they promise to open the gates to a Green IT Nirvana, where servers are “powerful, but not power hungry”.
Intel is not alone in pushing this eco-friendly vision: rival AMD, and server makers such as Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard are all keen advocates of powerful computers that do not consume vast quantities of energy.
Such messages may appeal to any manager examining spiralling energy costs in the data centre, but it would be naïve to assume that the vendors’ concern is born purely out of altruism.
The chip and server manufacturers are only too aware that if they can convince business leaders that their new products will reduce operating costs while delivering better performance, the notion of a large-scale upgrade of legacy infrastructure would look so much more appealing.
But market watcher IDC remains stubbornly unconvinced. It recently lowered its predictions for the number of processors it expects will be shipped between 2006 and 2010. The reason? Multi-core processors.
IDC initially predicted that the volume of processors shipping inside of servers would rise by 25% between 2006 and 2010. It has now amended that forecast: it has kept the numbers the same, but with the important caveat that it is counting individual cores as processors. That is set to knock $2.4 billion off the revenues it sees being generated.
And there is more bad news for the server makers: IDC predicts that virtualisation software – which will help push up the astonishingly poor utilisation rates of much of today’s server farms – is also going to depress server shipments. IDC has reduced its server shipment forecast by 4.5 million shipments for the years between 2006 to 2010.
Elsewhere, environmental pressure group Greenpeace is attempting to place the green efforts of the computer makers in context. It is following the environmental efforts of some of today’s leading PC and mobile handset makers, and ranking them accordingly. The rankings can be seen here.