Blog Post

Computers Just Keep Sucking More Power

I’ve been out of touch for a while now, and for past few days, I have been in catch-up mode. Last week, I caught up with Ted Schlein, general partner with the Sand Hill Road VC firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. We discussed, among other things, his various investments, many of which are in the IT security and software industries.

The startup he’s invested in that caught my attention was Seattle-based Verdiem, which has developed technology to better manage the power consumed by personal computers installed in corporations – big and small. (Thanks to some constant needling by the Earth2Tech editorial team, I’ve started paying attention to the whole energy consumption and efficiency aspect of computing.)

Nearly seven years old, Verdiem has raised around $15 million in VC funding, including funds provided by KPCB in 2007. Schlein pointed out that while data centers get a lot of attention, few realize that PCs left running (but often unattended) by office workers make up to nearly 40 percent of companies’ total IT energy costs. Printers, meanwhile, account for 8 percent of cost; data centers, 25 percent. (To get a better idea of the power consumed by today’s PCs, check out this great post on Veridiem’s blog.)

Verdiem is at the forefront of the “green software” companies that are developing ways to better manage power consumption.

I think the power consumption problem — whether it be inside large corporations or data centers — is getting out of control. Earth2Tech reports that the power demands from data centers are increasing at a dangerous rate. PG&E, the California utility, says that the demand for power from data centers in its regions has risen to between 400 and 500 megawatts from between 50 and 75 megawatts just 18 month ago.

“We had tremendous growth in data center capacity in the dot-com boom that never got filled. I can tell you that that capacity is now full to the gills, and they are asking us for more power.” … Mark Bramfitt, PG&E’s principal program manager of customer energy efficiency.

Interested in web infrastructure? Want to learn more about Green Data Centers? Check out our upcoming conference, Structure 08.

4 Responses to “Computers Just Keep Sucking More Power”

  1. With all the buzz about Facebook and Twitter, the blogosphere doesn’t really cover the less-sexy ways in which technology can generate [a lot more] value. If anyone has a good grasp on these quieter sectors, it’s the VCs. Would love to see more posts of this nature.

  2. There has been a good argument for centralized DC power standards that would eliminate up to 30% of the losses caused by per power supply method we use now. The heat and hysteresis losses per PC really add up. PC’s can still be built with power supplies for AC, but also have bypass connectors for IT and datacenter environments. Google does this on some of their large clusters.

  3. I blogged about this nearly two years ago. How much energy is wasted in cooling data centers and corporate server rooms? First, computers in the last 20 years do not need to be cooled to 60 F. Second, in much of the country, you could vent machine rooms to the outdoors rather than using energy to power air conditioning systems. Third, consolidate underused servers via virtualization. (Saves hardware cost, too).

    I’m sure there are more opportunities for energy savings that justify advanced technology like Veridiem. But there are some easy fixes available today – why not start now?