Sun Microsystems has launched an initiative to help manage and, in the longer term, reduce the energy demands of data centres. It's one of the biggest issues facing data centre managers today, as the recent growth of liquid and even CO2-cooled servers confirms.

The Santa Clara company has called on the IT industry to work with Energy Star to drive improved energy efficiency in data centre web servers at the energy-efficiency group's Enterprise Servers and Data Centres: Opportunities for Energy Savings conference, which finishes today.

Together with US EPA, AMD, end users and other industry leaders, Sun wants to discuss practical avenues to improving the efficiency of data centres as well as work to define industry-standard metrics for energy efficiency. Even small improvements in web server energy efficiency hold the promise of massive savings, said Sun.

Energy efficiency experts, end users and IT leaders with a clear interest in addressing the issue of increased power-use in data centres will share case studies, participate in workshops and discuss roadblocks to energy efficiency and drive toward identifying solutions at the conference. Sun will also discuss its recently-announced measurement for the next generation of the Internet: the new Sun SWaP (space, wattage and performance) metric that assesses the efficiency and effectiveness of rack-optimised server deployments in a data centre.

"The Energy Star programme is one of the most successful public-private partnerships in history," said Sun's EVP and CTO Greg Papadopoulos. "And Sun is calling on all of our industry colleagues to join us in working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, European Union, and other partners to expand Energy Star to cover all computers, not only on desktops but in data centre web servers as well."

"The time has come to define the equivalent of miles per gallon for data centres," said Papadopoulos. "Sun has been working to reduce the energy demands of computing and networking for many years and our current product family reflects our commitment to eco-responsible solutions. We are especially proud of the Sun-designed UltraSPARC T1 processor and consider it to be the hybrid engine of the processor world. We're also thrilled to be working with the EPA, AMD and other industry leaders in addressing barriers to data centre efficiency and developing much needed metrics."

"The fact that such a wide cross section of industry leaders, end users and energy efficiency experts are joining together to discuss data centre power consumption stresses the importance of the issue and the demand for an industry-wide metric to measure efficiency," said Energy Star's product development manager Andrew Fanara. "We're confident that this meeting of the minds is the first step to establishing clear parameters and expectations for both IT vendors and end users as they innovate and plan for next generation data centres."