Virtualisation is good for the environment

Computing: mentioned in a Slashdot thread about green server farms — a page extolling the OpenVPS virtual-server software’s environmental benefits:

OpenVPS is good for the environment: a low-end server these days consumes no less than 200W. Given that typical servers run 24/7/365 this amounts (to) 1752 KWh per year. And because every joule of energy consumed by a server is transformed to heat, you need to at least double this to consider the air conditioning costs, which brings us to 3504 KWh per year. …

At some point this becomes an ethical question: If my CPU is 99.9% idle, is it environmentally (not to mention fiscally!) responsible of me to keep this server running?

Virtualization technologies such Linux VServer used by OpenVPS offer a very viable alternative. If the server acts and feels like a dedicated server, what difference does it really make if it’s actually virtual? Yet consolidating 30 physical servers into 30 OpenVPS accounts running on one (albeit power hungry) server would save over 100000 kWh per year. That’s as much energy as is consumed on average by 10 houses!

What an excellent point! The OpenVPS dev’s slashdot commment reveals another good demo of this —

  # cat /proc/uptime
  16000520.62 9482790.31

The first number is seconds of uptime, the second number is seconds spent in a CPU-idle state. So the server for, going by those numbers, has spent 59% of its time in a CPU-idle state — and converting fossil fuels to waste heat in the process…

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