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Understanding Data Center Energy Intensity
The energy consumption of servers and data centers is an important issue both for industry professionals responsible for data center and government entities responsible for energy-related issues. Energy intensity metrics have been used in other fields to provide intuitive insights into energy consumption and some measure of work output. This type of approach can work for data centers, however, calculating energy intensity still requires some means for estimating the amount of compute performed, or work output, by the data center. The Green Grid has published a series of white papers on IT productivity. These define a number of possible approaches, or proxies, for estimating work output. Dell has leveraged both this work and its own internal research to produce a dataset that covers a production data center over a three-week period-of-time. The resulting dataset suggests strongly that this approach shows significant promise with respect to estimating data center work output. With future work, the industry will be able to further refine and develop these types of metrics, as well as develop new operational models for managing data centers with respect to both work output and resource consumption.