[kwlug-disc] [OT] linux server power

John Van Ostrand john at netdirect.ca
Thu Jan 27 20:23:18 EST 2011

You should check the CPU and IO load on your servers. If they are like most, they are running an average of 10% CPU or less and only doing real IO during backup. If so you should consider consolidating your servers into one virtual machine. Newer systems do more for power savings. Getting a system with enough CPU, memory and disk to support all your servers is one option. Keep in mind that VoIP may have some issues running on a virtual machine.

Given that you have only two servers: voip and web I suppose a VM solution won't work. I'd recommend finding a nice Atom system with a solid state disk or flash drive instead of a hard disk and use it for VoIP. You'll shave power big time and typically VoIP consumes very little CPU unless your supporting big conferences.

For your other server you could consider renting in the cloud. You get a VM on non-redundant hardware and it's likely located in the US so you'd have to be careful about privacy issues. It defers both hardware costs and power costs, but you now don't control your own upgrade schedule. I've been told that occasionally VM renters are told to migrate their systems.

It may just be that your web server could be an atom processor too. It really depends on what your server needs are.

If you don't want to change hardware for this you can use CPU scaling to dial-back the CPU megahertz and save power. You could also turn off all the on-board devices you don't use, like floppy drives and such. 

We've done testing on SSDs vs spinning disk and SSDs use less power. Replacing those may help.

In all I think most of my recommendations have a long payback time. An they may not be a net positive if your goal is reducing you carbon footprint. It takes energy to forge silicon and metal and oil to make plastics and transport products. The carbon footprint of a new computer may be larger than that of your electrical bill.

----- Original Message -----
> OK, I slid the linux part in there :).
> My wife just brought in an electrician to tell us why our electricity
> costs at home are so high. He came up with a bunch of different
> things,
> but one of the potential culprits are the two computers running in the
> basement. One's an old Dell tower server that runs our Voip phones.
> The other is a web/database/backup server running on an older HP
> workstation.
> A quick back of the napkin estimate from the electrician indicated the
> two machines might be costing me 30+ bucks a month in hydro alone.
> Step one is I think to replace both machines with something newer and
> more efficient (hopefully without losing speed).
> Are there any tricks/suggestions for lowering power costs on hardware,
> and on linux servers specifically? i.e. my voip server needs to be
> live
> 8 to 8, but outside that could probably be dormant except if triggered
> by an incoming call. A wake on incoming phone call might help.
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John Van Ostrand 
CTO, co-CEO 
Net Direct Inc. 
564 Weber St. N. Unit 12, Waterloo, ON N2L 5C6 
Ph: 866-883-1172 x5102 
Fx: 519-883-8533 

Linux Solutions / IBM Hardware 

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