Intel held a conference in London last week for international press where it laid out its growing green credentials, and very interesting it was too.
As the world's largest semiconductor maker, Intel comes at questions of energy efficiency and the environment from a few different angles.
First, as a consumer of power it has its own internal reasons to apply controls. Intel has 65,000 computer servers and 136 datacentres, 75 of which are the domain of chip designers. As microprocessors become ever more complex and highly integrated more compute capability is needed. Also, Intel is a regular buyer of other companies and has made 70 acquisitions since 1996, all of which adds to the financial and environmental cost of its IT operations.
To control that sprawl, Intel, like many other firms, is turning to virtualisation software so that it does not need to build every site for maximum load and can improve average utilisation from 60 percent to 80 percent.
Also, while some might see a requirement to extend server lifecycles, Intel believes it needs to accelerate refresh cycles in order to get the most from technology, and is currently upgrading many systems to - its own, naturally - Xeon 5100 and 5300 processors.
It is also scouting for new locations, having noted the savings that firms such as Google and Microsoft have achieved by using US sites located near power generation sources.
A second Intel objective is to defend the IT industry against allegations of being power hogs. It has done this primarily by investing heavily in R&D designed to enhance the energy efficiency of its processors and reduce the carbon footprint of its products.
However, Kevin Fisher, Intel's EU standards director, suggested that much of the criticism of IT's energy inefficiency failed to look at the bigger picture and that as well as being a power consumer, IT also helps save power. Online billing, auction sites such as eBay that encourage reusability and online retailers that do not require customers to visit shops are all examples of IT helping to reduce overall carbon emissions he argued.
Third, as a promoter of environmentally responsible behaviour, Intel argued that it has an unwritten duty to set a good example. In that role, it has commissioned its first "green building" in Haifa, Israel, home to some of Intel's biggest R&D brains.
Peter Banton, Intel's European operations manager, says that Intel had to spend an additional two to 2.5 percent more for the building but expects to make a return on its investment within five and a half years.
The spec is impressive: patio windows that let natural light flood in; datacentre waste heat is repurposed for heating water; condensed water from HVAC is used in showers; personal PC-based controls set heating and ventilation for individuals.
However, critics noted two oddities. First, solar panels were not used because of expense. Second, despite being located next to public-transport links, the site will have 750 parking spaces.
Well, nobody's got perfectly green credentials.
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