A London datacentre run by hosting provider Ultraspeed claims to have cut its energy needs by 40 percent through a combination of direct current electricity supply, diskless servers and low-voltage quad-core Xeon processors.

Ultraspeed introduced diskless servers earlier this year and said that reduced its datacentre power needs by ten percent.

The company claimed that the switch to direct current (DC) power added significant power efficiencies. Currently, most alternating current (AC) power supplies operate at just 75 percent efficiency, with 25 percent of the supplied electricity being wasted and converted to heat.

According to Ultraspeed DC power operates at approximately 93 percent efficiency. The servers run cooler and this is particularly important since it is estimated that for every 100 watts used to power a server, an additional 60-70 watts is required to cool it, typically.

In total, Ultraspeed believes DC power can save around 30 percent of a datacentre's entire energy consumption. Adding that to the diskless server power saving produces the 40 percent figure.

Ultraspeed's commercial director, Jordan Gross, said: "It's time for the IT industry to recognise that additional features and functionality in a managed hosting environment can be achieved in parallel with a substantial reduction in the associated carbon footprint. The inherent stability and efficiency of DC power has been known for years yet very few companies operating large server farms actually use it. With a potential reduction in overall carbon emissions from that initiative alone of around 30 percent, this is inexcusable."

He thinks that switching to lower energy technology is an imperative not just for the environment but also for UK businesses to remain competitive.

Gross said: "Modern servers are smaller but draw three times more power than their 1990s equivalents. Datacentres were simply not designed to handle that sort of consumption and many now need a separate substation to be built (which is often not possible) in order to increase server space. This naturally pushes the price up for businesses."

The company's diskless servers are Xeon 5300s, drawing less electricity per CPU cycle than other chips. They run cooler again and suffer fewer crashes because they have no direct-access disk. Instead their operating systems, application software and data are stored on a BlueArc Titan 2000 network-attached storage (NAS) system, connected by Gigabit Ethernet, and they bootstrap from this.

Data is replicated and RAIDed such that, should any disk fail, servers can access the same data from different disks in the array with no break in service. That removes the single largest component of server outages, single disk failure, from the availability equation.

Ultraspeed believes its hosting service will be more reliable because of the increased datacentre energy-efficiency and its diskless server/NAS storage concept. It also thinks it now has one of the greenest datacentres in the UK, if not the world. However it is not reducing prices to customers.

Gross said: "We're not reducing our prices on the basis of reduced power consumption at this stage - customers need to take account of the superior total service package they receive with diskless servers. Eventually there may be cost savings for customers on a lower end diskless product, although this will undoubtedly be less feature-rich in terms of speed, resilience and service level guarantees."