Adopted in January by the University’s trustees, Princeton’s Campus Sustainability Plan includes comprehensive efforts to reduce waste and to conserve resources in all areas of University operations, as well as initiatives in research, education, civic engagement, and communications. Computing is becoming a large part of the University’s energy-use footprint and considerable efforts are underway to find sustainable energy and conservation solutions. From high energy super-computers to paper use to videoconferencing, the March 12 Lunch ‘n Learn explored the challenges and options in energy conservation in computing at Princeton.
Shana Weber, the University’s Sustainability Manager, began by providing an overview of the University’s comprehensive sustainability efforts as the University enters the implementation phase of the effort. With regard to Greenhouse Gas production, the University has set two aggressive goals: By 2020, to reduce campus emissions to 1990 levels and to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles coming to campus by 10%. Of course, the campus’s size is growing; we’re adding students, staff, and faculty, making the meeting of both goals all the more challenging.
In 1990, the University’s emissions of CO2 were approximately 95 metric tons. In 1996, the University installed a cogeneration facility that dramatically increased the efficiency of the central power plant and scaled back CO2 emissions nearly to 1990 level. Since then, and before then, emissions continued to rise. To return to 1990 levels, the University intends to build new buildings and major renovations 50% more energy efficient than code requires. To reduce carbon throughout the existing campus, the University will pursue a strategy that includes energy conservations projects within existing buildings, updating existing heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, and improving the efficiency and runtime of the University’s power plant.
Another important part of the University’s sustainability efforts, resource conservation, reflects the manner in which we run our campus on a daily basis. The campus is committed to protecting ground water, improving recycling rates and reducing solid waste, implementing use of green cleaning products, and in general, purchasing products that have a low environmental footprint.
Shana explained that information about these interrelated initiatives is located at the sustainability web site. For Earth month in April, the web site will list a calendar of related events.
A range of efforts and opportunities exist within OIT to contribute to the campus sustainability effort. Leila Shahbender, Senior Manager of OIT Customer Services, discussed the challenges of greener printing and described Web-ex, a tool for online videoconferencing and collaboration. To date in FY08, 5,556,856 sheets have been printed in the student computing clusters, open locations where students can work on their papers. By the end of the year, with the usual crunch of work in the spring, we expect that number to exceed last year’s total of more than 8 million printed pages.
The impact of our paper culture is well known. The paper industry has itself a high carbon footprint, deforestation has a wide range of pernicious effects, and even toner cartridges and the packaging of paper products have a significant impact.
To lessen the University’s impact on the environment, we are following the University standard by using 100% post consumer waste paper. We require students, once they submit a job, to confirm that job directly at the printer. We are considering the implementation of a quota on the total number of pages that students can print. We are encouraging students to submit their academic work electronically by making tools available in the clusters that ease the creation of .pdf documents. And we can encourage students not to print out e-reserves, posters, and flyers.
Shahbender noted that the University has a license with WebEx for hosting web based desktop conferences. Increased use of such facilities might help to reduce travel needs within the community. The University’s license supports up to 20 conferences at any given time. You can set up a conference in advance, use the system to invite participants to attend by sending them a link, and then during the conference share your desktop or theirs. Shahbender noted that if you want a voice component, conferencing is available through the University. Skype is also an option.
Charles Kruger, Manager of OIT Enterprise Servers and Storage, addressed how we can reduce administrative computing power requirements for the 450 administrative servers that support applications such as the University e-mail systems and web sites. The number of supported servers has been increasing 10- 20% a year. Servers are getting faster, but that also means that they require more power. To reduce the amount of electricity that we need, we are placing multiple applications on single servers, buying greener machines, and using virtualization techniques to run multiple operating systems on single servers
Rather than place the growing number of University applications on their own servers, Kruger noted that there is a meaningful effort today, when possible, to consolidate applications on shared servers. For example, more than 50 administrative application databases now share 3 Oracle servers, and more than 80 departmental LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) websites share a single server.
We have recently begun to take advantage of Green Machine offerings such as Sun Fire T2000 CoolThreads servers, providing twice the resources while using half the power. Such energy savings compound because less power is needed, in turn, for less cooling infrastructure. And we are using virtualization technologies like VMware and Solaris Zones or Xen to run multiple OS instances on a single physical server. Today OIT runs 48 virtual servers on two physical VMware ESX servers providing savings of 10,500 watts of power consumption. OIT expects to use 1/5 the power, a saving of 13,800 watts, for every 60 servers that we virtualize. Further energy savings are possible through virtualized storage, essentially disk pools on the network with attached storage. In this more efficient architecture, storage unneeded by one application can be used by another.
Curt Hillegas, Director of the TIGRESS High-Performance Computing Center and Computational Science and Engineering, reviewed sustainability efforts within high performance computing at Princeton. The TIGRESS Web Site shows the five major high performance systems that in place. Much attention is being focused on the fact that these systems have very high power requirements. The key towards efficiency, says Hillegas is centralization of high-performance facilities, to take full advantage of the large centralized UPS and transformers, good power distribution, and good cooling systems. The most recent acquisition, Artemis, is the most power friendly of the five machines because it uses an SGI architecture that involves no disks at any of the nodes and a power distribution in each rack that eliminates the need for many separate power supplies.
In the future, Multicore processors will deliver more cycles for cumulatively less power. SiCortex has introduced a new computer architecture that combines a large number of slower processors within massively parallel systems with an environmentally interesting result. Huge efficiencies may also be possible with Fully Programmable Gate Arrays and Cell Processors. They are much harder to program but offer significant power savings on certain types of projects. Data Center improvements also offer the hope for significant new efficiencies. This coming weekend, for example, we are installing a new UPS to replace a 26 year-old unit that has moving parts, notably a rotating flywheel. The new unit will offer immediate energy savings. A new data now contemplated will be designed to offer very significant energy efficiency.
John Shorey, a Software Support Specialist within OIT, addressed desktop computer power management issues. The University has standardized its administrative hardware with a managed desktop environment [DeSC]. The 2,700 DeSC machines do not currently apply power management, explained Shorey, because Windows XP has limited power management controls and because the University’s backup service needs to have the machines powered on in order to work. Security Updates are also set to apply at night; XP Machines do not automatically wake up to install their missing updates. Our SMS (Systems Management Server) software pushes also require machines to be on.
DeSC has eliminated most (if not all) CRT displays within DeSC. All new purchases must include LCD flat panel displays. In 2006, DeSC implemented the EPA’s EZ-GPO policy to control monitor power when no user is logged in. Users control their own monitor power settings when they are logged in. New Dell Optiplex 755 models use EPA “80PLUS efficient” power supplies operating at approximately 10-12% higher efficiency compared to current OptiPlex systems.
With the advent of Windows Vista, machines that are sleeping or hibernating will automatically wakeup at the specified time so long as they are plugged into AC power. With the release of Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 later this year, we will also have the ability to specify “power management” preferences or defaults that the users will be able to change.
Posted by Lorene Lavora