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.

Following are some examples of new products IBM has developed with increased performance and improved energy efficiency.

One of IBM's product energy efficiency goals is to continually improve the computing power delivered for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity used with each new generation or model of a product. In 2014, the IBM Power SystemsTM S822, S824, and E880 -- the three servers for which typical watts consumed per relative performance are available from the comparable, previous-generation systems -- achieved reductions between 4 and 38 percent on this metric. The IBM z13TM, announced in January 2015, increases the available capacity per kilowatt over the IBM zEnteprise® EC12 system by 46 percent for the air-cooled and 58 percent for the water-cooled model.

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. The following are examples of new IBM technologies, software and solutions that have enabled the increased energy efficiency of IBM's servers and storage products.

IBM Power Systems

IBM's Power SystemsTM provide enterprise-class server capabilities for traditional and cloud applications, with an emphasis on data-centric and highly virtualized operations requiring high reliability and availability. From an energy-efficiency standpoint, Power Systems servers can deliver the most workload for unit of energy consumed of any server when the system is configured to achieve maximum utilizations of 50-65 percent through workload virtualization and the use of EnergyScaleTM power management capabilities, which matches energy use to the workload levels on the server. The following are highlights:

IBM released six models of IBM Power Systems servers in 2014: the one-socket S812 and S814, the two-socket S822 and S824, and the enterprise E870 and E880 systems. These Power Systems servers continue to use 80 PLUS Platinum certified power supplies, one grade above the ENERGY STAR requirements and two grades above requirements established by Directive 2009/125/EC of the Ecodesign Requirements for computers and computer servers. Seven systems, the IBM Power® 730, 740, 750, and 760, and the IBM Power Systems S822, S822L, and S824 are certified to the ENERGY STAR server requirements (Version 2). The two-socket servers reduce idle power 28-50 percent from maximum power, and the four-socket servers 16-30 percent, depending on the configuration. The S812 and S814 are not certified, as ENERGY STAR does not have certification requirements for one socket resilient servers.

z Systems mainframes

IBM z SystemsTM mainframe servers provide the computing infrastructure for the new "app economy". In January 2015, IBM announced the new IBM z13TM. This mainframe server delivers scale and economics for computing needs together with real-time encryption and analytics to handle workloads that help meet the demands of today's mobile economy, all while transforming the efficiency and economics of IT. The air- and water-cooled z13s offer 46 percent and 58 percent more capacity per kilowatt (kW), respectively, compared to the air-cooled zEnterprise® EC12. With its high utilization rates, the z13 offers one of the most efficient computing platforms when measuring the workload delivered per unit of energy consumed.

System z® servers can be run at up to 95 percent utilization if the systems are properly configured for the workloads they are operating. A System z server can consolidate 200 x86 servers, avoiding 75 MT CO2 per year (assuming 40 kW for the x86 servers, 20 kW for the System z).

High-performance computers

IBM offers a full range of purpose-built and "off the shelf" technical computing (supercomputer) solutions. IBM's supercomputer solutions are prevalent on both the TOP500 and Green500 supercomputer lists. As of June 2015, 13 of the top 50 most energy-efficient supercomputers in the world, as rated on the Green500 List, were built on the IBM Blue Gene®/Q high-performance computing (HPC) platform. IBM Blue Gene/Q systems also occupy 4 of the top 10 spots and 6 of the top 50 spots on the June 2015 TOP500 list of the world's top supercomputers. An IBM Power 775 system is also in the top 50 of the TOP500 list. Technologies developed through IBM's HPC development efforts are leveraged across the entire IBM Systems product line to improve performance and energy efficiency.

The speed and expandability of IBM's HPC products and solutions have enabled business and the scientific community to address a wide range of complex problems and simulations and make more informed decisions in the life sciences, astronomy, climate, system simulations and modeling, and many other applications. IBM continues its leadership performance in a space-saving, power-efficient HPC packages to address the most demanding performance applications, having recently been selected by the US Department of Energy to develop two IBM OpenPOWERTM supercomputers based on IBM's Data Centric computing architecture.

Storage systems

IBM continues to enhance the portfolio of storage systems, utilizing and improving various software-based data management capabilities such as Easy Tier®, thin provisioning, data compression, de-duplication, a software defined storage application and storage virtualization which can reduce the storage hardware and energy footprint as well as the number of terabytes required to accomplish a given storage task.

IBM expanded its range of flash-based storage systems, announcing the FlashSystemTM 900 in March 2015. The FlashSystem 900 provides a 40 percent performance/power improvement as measured by the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) Emerald Power Efficiency Measurement Specification when compared to the FlashSystem 840. Flash storage reduces energy use by 60 percent or more compared to disk drives, and significantly improves server and storage performance by minimizing the latency associated with data transfer within the data center.

  • An IBM client used an IBM FlashSystem 840 to enable its server infrastructure to increase the number of virtual images per server by a factor of 3. This reduced the number of servers required by a one-third, enabling the client to avoid server purchases and maintain a reduced operational footprint that required less space and energy use.

IBM's other storage product offerings provide clients efficiency improvements for their IT operations. The IBM XIV® high-end, grid-scale disk storage system enables up to an 80 percent reduction in space footprint and power consumption over previous-generation technologies configured to handle and store comparable amounts of data. Its grid-scale architecture automatically enables 95 percent utilization of storage capacity with no performance degradation.

  • An internet company streaming video content to customers shrank its storage footprint from 16 racks to 3, a reduction of 80 percent. Assuming 5 kilowatts per rack, this is a reduction in electricity consumption of over 550 MWh per year, enough power to supply 70 typical US households. This represents an avoidance of 198 MT of CO2 emissions associated with the electricity generation assuming an electricity emissions factor of 0.36 MT CO2/MWh. At the same time, the company has achieved a 10x increase in the performance of its storage operations.

The IBM Storwize® family of disk storage systems include built-in functions such as Real-time CompressionTM and Easy Tier technology combining flash and hard-disk drives to deliver extraordinary levels of efficiency and high performance. Similar to the IBM XIV storage product, these capabilities enable the Storwize hardware to manage more data than previous-generation systems, decreasing the hardware and energy consumption footprint required to manage a given amount of data by 20-80 percent, depending on the application.

  • A leading software development and management support company deployed a V7000 system with a flash storage layer, Easy Tier and IBM Real-time Compression to reduce the required data storage volume by 40 percent (22 to 14 terabytes) while increasing performance by 85 percent. A 40 percent reduction in storage volume translates into a 25 to 30 percent reduction in energy use and consumption.

IBM has continued to expand its software-defined Elastic Storage offerings, which enable storage automation and virtualization in both traditional and cloud environments. Elastic Storage enables the reduction of storage energy consumption and costs through data consolidation and the use of 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.

SoftLayer Cloud and Cloud Managed Services IT offerings

IBM has increased both its public SoftLayer Cloud and private or hybrid Cloud Managed Services offerings, with 37 cloud data center locations around the globe. Cloud computing offers an on-demand, more efficient way to deploy and run IT applications and systems. As an example of the benefits of the cloud, a banking client transferred its IT infrastructure to an IBM hybrid cloud solution, placing the bank's online and mobile workloads on the public cloud and its large-scale transaction workloads on a private cloud. This reduced the server infrastructure by 60 percent, achieving significant reductions in energy consumption and other operations and maintenance costs.


IT appliances combine server, storage and network capabilities, and then optimize them to execute a specialized task or group of tasks with a significantly smaller IT hardware and energy footprint than would be required if individual systems were deployed in a conventional manner.

IBM MessageSight, a server appliance, is designed to help organizations manage and communicate with the billions of mobile devices and sensors found in systems such as automobiles, traffic management systems, smart buildings and household appliances. Previously, achieving connectivity at this level required hundreds of servers. The MessageSight appliance manages the same connectivity with a single server appliance, reducing the energy use by two orders of magnitude. IBM also offers appliances for data warehousing, storage data compression, data security and masking, and other specialty activities to offer optimized capabilities with a minimal energy footprint.