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Ensuring Intelligent Infrastructure Growth is Green Growth: Interview with Michael Clegg, Supermicro

Supermicro is a thought leader in not only in reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) but also the concept of the Total Cost to Environment (TCE). As we look to renew our infrastructure and make it more intelligent, what lessons can we learn to make this next phase of growth in processing as green as possible?

New technologies are constantly being developed all the time. CPUs, GPUs, memory, storage, and networking are not just getting faster and more capable but are also showing that more performance can be delivered per watt than ever before. Supermicro servers and storage systems are designed with the ability to upgrade separate sub-systems without replacing the entire system. This leads to reducing E-waste while still being able to use the latest technologies. Together, lower power usage and less waste will lower the TCE of organizations worldwide. In addition, innovative data center management software can recognize which servers are lightly or barely used and automatically reduce their power consumption.

Can you give an insight into the kinds of technologies that combine to reduce the total energy consumption within servers in the data center?

Mechanical design has a lot to do with reducing the power consumption within a server. Moving air over the hot electronics has a significant effect on the overall electricity usage. Making sure that no obstructions and properly sized fans are used leads to reduced electricity usage. Many options can be investigated using advanced flow simulation techniques, leading to designs that keep a maximum amount of air flowing. Also, by partnering with the leading CPU and GPU suppliers, Supermicro engineers can ensure that the servers operate at peak performance with the proper settings for the workloads that need to be completed. Additionally, liquid cooling, where the CPUs and GPUs are cooled by pumping cold liquid over the chips, will significantly lower power consumption in a data center.

Supermicro achieved #1 position in the Green 500,  for low energy consumption in data centers, three times, with incredible efficiency – how was this low energy consumption achieved ?

Supermicro worked closely with Preferred Networks (PFN) to design today’s most efficient high-performance computer system. This joint effort utilized efficient CPUs with the PFN acceleration technology to deliver incredible efficiency for AI research and workloads.

What are the particular challenges that the deployment of smart infrastructure presents for energy efficiency?

As data generation increasingly takes place at the edge, new locations for servers of all shapes, sizes, and capabilities will need to be placed far from climate-controlled data centers. The requirements that this involves mean that a range of power and cooling constraints will exist. System manufacturers such as Supermicro offer a range of form factors for servers that can be installed far from the data center yet still perform without compromise. In addition, new wireless technology needs to be deployed as existing networks may not have the capacity or latencies to handle these new workloads close to the edge.

Cooling is a major driver of energy consumption of data centers, as the density of processors generate considerable heat in their operation. Is moving processing to the edge inherently more power efficient, as the processing will be less dense?

Lower power CPUs and GPUs can be deployed at the edge today. With a range of offerings, Supermicro has a range of products designed for different environments, all with separate power and cooling requirements. Single socket servers now have similar performance and capabilities with lower power requirements compared to previous generations’ dual-socket servers. Thus, the overall power needs are lower than earlier servers, enabling these systems to be installed in diverse environments.

How can Supermicro contribute to ensuring that IoT is achieved in a way that minimizes E-Waste?

With the Supermicro disaggregated architecture, separate sub-systems can be upgraded with the latest technology without replacing the entire chassis. As a result, less E-waste will be created, reducing landfill amounts.

What role can city and state infrastructure planners play in ensuring that our intelligent infrastructure technology is as green as possible?

City and state infrastructure planners need to look at a range of requirements before choosing vendors. This is not just about lower power consumption today. Still, planners must also consider the Total Cost to the Environment, which includes power consumption and the amount of E-waste—also, planning where and what types of servers are deployed to match the workloads and service level agreements will reduce the effect on the environment. With many choices regarding form factors, processing power, expansion capability, and networking, matching servers with their intended use and operating envelop is key to keeping the intelligent edge infrastructure as green as possible.

Michael Clegg is Vice President and General Manager, 5G & Edge Solutions at Supermicro Inc.

For more information about Supermicro’s Green Initiatives, please visit:  https://www.supermicro.com/en/about/resource-saving-architecture