IBM to double computing, keep energy use same

Tuesday, 29 April 2008, 05:57 Hrs
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Singapore: Global IT major IBM will double its computing power by 2010 but keep its energy use the same as today, says the head of its global industry division.

This would be done through two measures, said Michael Valocchi, partner and global industry leader of IBM's energy and utilities division in global business services.

The first was "better utilisation of server technology and moving computing capacity around", Valocchi told IANS on the sidelines of the B4E (Business for the Environment) summit here this week.

The second was to "change the cooling cycle altogether. Today you have a computer that heats up the room. Then you have an air-conditioner to cool the room down. This doesn't make sense. The technology we're developing instead is that of a self-cooling computer".

Now that IBM had got out of the personal computer (PC) business, how long would it take for this technology to be transferred to the average PC? "Three to five years," said Valocchi.

IBM Is now spending $1 billion a year on developing responses to the climate change crisis, Valocchi said. "That is 20 percent of our total R&D (research and development) budget.

"That is the first piece in our response. In the second piece, we are talking to manufacturers of our facilities to bring down energy costs.

"Do you know that 33 percent of the total cost of our facility in Burlington, Vermont, is energy cost? Now we're measuring use and possible technological solution in each individual process. We're already bringing down the energy use very significantly.

"For the third piece of our response, you have to realise that 60 of our business is in the service sector. We're talking to the people in the offices and the building managers. It is as simple a matter as switching off your computer and the lights when you go home.

"Our Bangalore and Hyderabad facilities are parts of this initiative."

Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions, mainly of carbon dioxide, is warming the atmosphere, which is already affecting farm output, leading to more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and raising sea level, especially in the tropics and sub-tropics.

Energy generation is the leading cause of carbon dioxide emissions.

In this background, IBM carried out a "future of industry" study six to eight months ago, Valocchi said, surveying about 1,900 business executives in six industrialised countries, people who bought energy for their firms.

"We found that (energy) consumers are hungry for information on what they can do to fight climate change," Valocchi said. "Power utilities need to segment their customers differently - look at the propensity to make changes.

"We need to move to smart grids - start by getting seven to 10 large utility firms on board. We're doing some R&D work on this. We're talking to utility firms, including those in India. We're launching our survey in India later this year."

Valocchi said: "Our fight against climate change may not be dramatic, but it's incremental. We have to win."
Source: IANS
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