The British Computer Society (BCS) said it's developing a model that’s designed to help IT managers select the most efficient servers, and so deliver a greener IT infrastructure.

According to Liam Newcombe, secretary of the BCS’s data centre specialist group, and who was speaking at the Data And Cooling Show, the BCS’s research shows that data centres can be made more efficient - greener - by altering the way that data centre services such as power and cooling are provisioned. This entails providing power infrastructure according to the servers’ configuration, rather than using the rating figures on their power supply units.

In other words, the amount of power and other utilities provisioned should be more proportional to the power requirements of components such as the amount of memory and the number of CPUs inside the servers, rather than the nominal power draw.

Newcombe said that provisioning according to the rating plate was a mistake. Using a practical example, one leading server supplier had found a memory supplier whose DIMMs use 3W instead of the more usual 20W. For a consolidation server that might house up to 32GB, this is a considerable power saving, said Newcombe, and it should be taken account of.

The problem, said Newcombe, is that it’s hard to find that level of detail about products in a common data format which would make them easily comparable.

Vendors supply data about their equipment in different formats. Newcombe said that IT and data centre managers need a common power reporting format in addition to the standard metrics, and that it should be available for all the states of all hardware. For example, vendors should supply the power draw when a server is asleep, idling, as well as operating at peak load. “You need a surprising amount of information about each piece of kit,” he said.

The problem is that all hardware makers have different formats for delivering that data.

The BCS said that it’s working on a standard XML format that vendors will be able to use for the data about their equipment. Newcombe said that the model is aimed at being “independent, fair comparisons, royalty-free and open source - it’ll be on our website.”

He said that Dell and Sun are involved, with others expected. He said that the white paper containing the common data format should be released very soon. “The white paper model is in review phase, and will be going to full release very shortly,” he said.