Product energy efficiency

Product energy efficiency has long been one of IBM's environment and climate protection objectives. It was formalized as one of the company's corporate objectives when IBM's Product Stewardship program was established in 1991. Through collaboration of IBM Research and our product development teams, we have combined hardware and software technologies to improve the energy efficiency of IT equipment and data centers.

One of IBM's product energy efficiency goals is to improve the computing power delivered for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity used by each new generation of server. In 2016, the IBM OpenPOWER S822LC for high-performance computing (HPC) was released. It improved its Server Efficiency Rating Tool (SERT) weighted geomean active efficiency metric by 18 percent versus that of the comparable previous generation product. The SERT was created by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). The SPECpower Committee designed, implemented, and delivered the SERT suite, a next-generation tool set for measuring and evaluating the energy efficiency of servers.

IBM has designed our POWER8® systems to operate at industry-leading levels of efficiency, guaranteeing the system will perform as warranted while at a sustained, high level of utilization. The utilization guarantee is available across both our Power Enterprise and Scale-out systems:

Higher utilization levels enable more work to be done within a smaller server footprint reducing space and energy use requirements, significantly increasing operational efficiency and reducing total cost of ownership. For more, see Power Systems performance is so exceptional - We guarantee it! Examples of the ability to consolidate workloads and reduce energy requirements are provided in the IBM Power SystemsTM section below.

IBM continues to develop innovations to reduce server energy consumption. To improve the energy efficiency of IBM Power Systems servers, IBM developed a technique, called "resonant clocking," which reduces the power demands of the processor clock. The processor clock sets the rate of computation and can consume up to 25 percent of the processor power. The innovation reduced clock power by 40 percent and processor power demand by 10 percent. The power savings translates into a 2 to 4 percent higher processor frequency or an 8 percent higher workload throughput, enabling the server to deliver more work for each watt consumed.

IBM also has a goal to certify two-thirds of its new server products and at least one storage product in each of three ENERGY STAR® storage categories to the ENERGY STAR program criteria. Visit our ENERGY STAR certified products page for more information.

In addition to its ongoing program and objectives regarding energy efficient products, IBM has initiated and invested in innovations and integrated solutions involving its hardware, software and services business to address the energy efficiency of IT equipment and the data center. Visit our Data center energy efficiency page for more information.

IBM continues to utilize innovations in semiconductor, hard drive/storage system and networking technologies to improve server and storage system performance for each unit of power consumed by the equipment. For more information, see:


IBM Power Systems

IBM's Power Systems, with IBM POWER8 and OpenPOWER technologies, provide enterprise-class server capabilities for traditional and cloud applications, with an emphasis on data-centric and highly virtualized operations that require high reliability and availability. IBM Power Systems servers offer a broad range of specialized functional capabilities that may not be available in other servers. From an energy efficiency standpoint, IBM Power Systems servers can deliver the most workload per unit of energy consumed of any server, when the system is configured to enable virtualization of workloads for maximum utilization of up to 80 percent. Power Systems also offer IBM EnergyScaleTM power management capabilities that match energy use of the server to its workload levels, minimizing energy use. For selected products, water cooling is available to cool the system more efficiently, reducing required cooling fan speeds to deliver an 8 percent lower energy use.

The IBM OpenPOWER S822LC server has an 80 PLUS Platinum certified power supply, one grade above ENERGY STAR requirements and two grades above requirements established pursuant to European Union Directive 2009/125/EC, which sets ecodesign requirements for computer servers.

IBM Power Systems client efficiency examples:

  • IBM Power Systems servers can make material improvements in the efficiency of data center operations. One client implemented an IBM Power Systems S822L server solution to perform complex time- and computational-intensive workloads. Compared to a competing x86-based solution, IBM reduced computing time by 40 hours (40 percent) while reducing energy consumption by 6 MWh/year (40 percent). The reduced energy consumption avoided 3 metric tons (MT) of CO2 emissions for each S822L server deployed.
  • Another client installed two IBM Power Systems E880 servers and six IBM FlashSystem® 820 storage products to replace a legacy IT system. The new system delivered up to 90 percent faster production planning through improved computational and storage performance, which enabled the client to speed up deliveries to customers. At the same time, system energy consumption was reduced by over 450 MWh/year, avoiding 210 MT of CO2/year.
  • Energy use reductions and efficiency improvements are also achieved through the improved utilization capabilities of IBM Power Systems servers. A cloud services client selected the IBM Power Systems S812L server because it could host twice the number of virtual environments as a competing x86-based server. Deployment of the Power Systems server reduced the server count by half and energy consumption by approximately 40 percent while offering improved reliability, serviceability and performance. The improved efficiency saves 3 MWh/year and avoids associated CO2 emissions of 1 MT. Similar productivity and energy efficiency improvements are being achieved across the thousands of IBM Power Systems that IBM sells each year.

z Systems mainframes

IBM z Systems mainframe servers provide a unified, secure infrastructure for cloud, enterprise mobility, and analytics operations and applications. The IBM z13® can support up to 8,000 virtual images and operate at utilizations of 90 percent or better to enable the consolidation of multiple workloads onto a single, highly efficient server platform. With its high utilization rates, the z13 offers one of the most efficient computing platforms when measured by the workload delivered per unit of energy consumed. One client, using a workload management automation tool, consolidated and optimized software from its legacy server and storage systems onto an IBM z13 server, reducing overall energy use in its data center by 40 percent - saving approximately 45 MWh/year of electricity consumption and avoiding 18 MT of associated CO2 emissions.

IBM offers a water-cooled version of the z13, which provides 8 percent more computing capacity per kilowatt consumed when compared to the air-cooled model.


High-performance computing systems

IBM offers a full range of purpose-built and "off the shelf" technical computing (supercomputer) solutions and systems. IBM's supercomputers are found in both the TOP500 and Green Graph 500 supercomputer lists. As of November 2016, IBM had five BlueGene®/Q supercomputers among the top 30 in the TOP500 list, as well as 19 BlueGene/Q supercomputers in the top 100 of the Green Graph 500. The TOP500 list ranks computers based on their ability to solve a linear set of equations, while the Green Graph 500 compares HPC systems based on a "performance per watt" metric. Technologies developed through IBM's HPC development efforts are leveraged across the entire IBM product line to improve performance and energy efficiency.

The speed and expandability of IBM's HPC products and solutions have enabled users — in the business and scientific community, as well as governments — to carry out complex simulations and address a wide range of problems on topics such as life sciences, astronomy, climate and many other applications. OpenPOWER HPC technology is enabling advances in supercomputing. In 2016, the Little Green Machine II HPC cluster was announced by a research institute. The HPC cluster is based on the OpenPOWER architecture and consists of one IBM OpenPOWER S821LC and four IBM OpenPOWER 822LC servers with eight compute nodes, and is small enough to be transported with a carrier bicycle. It uses 1 percent of the electricity of a large supercomputer while enabling the execution of simulations that were run on the 18,688-node Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States.


Storage systems

IBM's range of storage products — including the IBM FlashSystem 900, the IBM XIV®, the Storwize® family, the DS8880 enterprise storage family, and tape systems - offer clients solutions for all their data storage needs. IBM storage products are supported by software-defined storage and capacity optimization methods (COMs) that maximize the utilization of available storage capacity and assign data to the storage tier commensurate with the importance of the data. COM functions include software-based data management capabilities such as Easy Tier®, thin provisioning, data compression and de-duplication, and storage virtualization. These capabilities can reduce the storage hardware and energy footprint as well as the number of terabytes required to accomplish a given storage task.

IBM's FlashSystem storage devices reduce energy use by 60 percent or more compared to disk drives, and significantly improve server and storage performance by minimizing the latency associated with data transfer within the data center.

IBM's software-defined Spectrum ScaleTM technology enables storage automation and virtualization in both traditional and cloud environments. In addition, it enables the reduction of storage energy consumption and costs through data consolidation and data placement technologies to optimize the use of available storage devices, including tape storage. The ultimate outcome is to maximize the amount of data stored on a minimum number of storage products, in turn minimizing energy use.

Storage systems client solutions:

  • One client implemented an IBM flash storage solution to replace a large disk storage system. The solution incorporated a new IBM FlashSystem V9000 and storage area network volume controller with existing IBM XIV and Storwize V7000 storage products, using IBM Spectrum VirtualizeTM software and VersaStack solutions to integrate the hardware, maximize performance and minimize the system electricity consumption and equipment footprint. The integration of the FlashSystem storage improved system performance by 57 percent while reducing floor space 98 percent, energy use by over 60 MWh/year, and associated CO2 emissions by 23 MT.
  • Another client consolidated six high-end storage racks onto two IBM Storwize V7000 storage products using IBM Spectrum Virtualize software to centralize storage management and optimize capacity use. The consolidation boosted storage capacity by 150 percent and performance by 200 percent, while reducing occupied floor space by 75 percent, energy consumption by 55 percent, and CO2 emissions by 2 MT.