School IT provision
» Energy Management
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Jul 17th 2008
How do we approach the problem of conserving energy on one hand, and making computing facilities freely available and easy to use?
We have already moved toward a greener school by:
- ensuring we buy low energy PCs where possible
- phasing out the use of CRTs in favour of LCDs
- using 85% recycled copier paper
- recycling all ink and toner cartridges
- building energy management into the MATLAB cluster
One problem we face is the undergraduate cluster - it's been proposed that we investigate a system to remotely turn this off and on to reduce power consumption. This conflicts at the moment with the need for the PCs to be on overnight so they can receive updates while not in use. The new cluster will be on Vista, and may present different problems - but there is no easy fix for this.
Staff desktops are a bit easier to manage, in that they don't need overnight updates. User education about switching off is important, but we may also need to either rewire some rooms or provide more accessible power switches where the current sockets are not accessible, or where a single socket feeds equipment that needs to remain on as well (like answering machines)
Jul 23rd 2008
Regarding the undergraduate cluster a few of things spring to mind.
Firstly, do the machines need to be left on every night? MS patches for example, only come out on Tuesdays (I think)? Would it be possible for IT services to have a similar policy and issue patches on one particular night? That way, the PC's can be switched off overnight for 6 of 7 nights.
Another option would be to tell the machines to shut down after they've finished applying all updates. This, I guess would depend somewhat on how the machines receive their updates. Does each individual machine query the server to find out if any updates are needed? If so, can a shut down script be added onto the end of the update script?
Last thing would be power saving whilst the machine is being used. I'm not sure what processor is in the cluster machines - do you know if they're SpeedStep capable? If so, enabling it will bring some modest savings will no impact on users (don't need 2Ghz to use Word!).
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