Data storage systems — computers that enable companies to store and access large amounts of data — might be a bit of a dry topic for a Monday morning. But this morning, computing company Sun Microsystems is launching a new set of data storage products that use open source and solid-state memory drives to cut their energy consumption to one quarter that of traditional data storage systems.
Solid state drives have no moving parts and require less power to operate than mechanical disk drives. While solid state drives aren’t used as commonly in current storage systems, Sun says that a smaller energy bill, combined with standard hardware and an open source system, means the storage product — dubbed the 7000 or Amber Road family — can offer cost savings of 75 percent compared with competing storage technology.
For customers, the eco-aspect is likely overshadowed by the overall cost savings, but the large amount of power consumed by computing is an increasingly important issue. The electricity used by servers alone doubled between 2000 to 2005 to about 123 billion kilowatt-hours, or about 1 percent of the world’s electricity use, according to Jonathan Koomey, a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs and Stanford University. Koomey says going forward computing will only become a worse power hog, potentially sucking up 45-76 percent more electricity in 2010 than in 2005.
Sun’s storage products are a bright spot of innovation in some difficult times. The company’s revenue fell 7 percent and it posted a net loss of almost $1.7 billion in the most recent quarter. While Sun’s storage business is tiny compared to that of HP or EMC, it is one of the fastest growing parts of the company.