It's Easy Being Green

Green Up with IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager for POWER

Green Up with IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager for POWER
Illustration by Gina and Matt

In today’s business and political environment, being a green company is becoming increasingly important. The benefits are more than just being a good corporate citizen and showing you care about saving the natural resources of the world around you. By taking action to save power within your datacenter, you can potentially save significant money. In fact, many companies must save energy to grow their businesses. Because some IT locations are within a full power grid, it’s impossible to get additional power to their datacenters. Others may just be unable to increase power to the datacenter room of a building. Still others may think they need to build a new datacenter to keep up with growing IT needs, but would like to delay that investment for as long as possible. For many years, IBM has been active in providing technical solutions to increase the compute power available per watt of power supplied. On May 10, 2007, IBM announced Project Big Green, further displaying its commitment in this area. Within Project Big Green, around $1 billion has been allocated to additional technologies and services to help companies become green. One of the initiative’s key product technologies is IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager (AEM) 3.1.

Active Energy Manager

AEM is a follow-on to the successful IBM PowerExecutive product. PowerExecutive Version 1.00 started shipping in late 2005 and supported monitoring the power use of select IBM System x servers. (Note that the first release supported BladeCenter servers only—no rack servers.) Since then, functions were added up through version 2.10, including support for power capping, additional blade servers, System x rack servers and GUI improvements. One of the GUI improvements included a wattmeter, which let users enter the rate they pay for power (per kilowatt hour) and then view how much it costs to run an individual server. As part of Project Big Green, AEM was funded to support additional hardware platforms and offer more functions. AEM will likely be a cornerstone of IBM’s energy-efficiency focus for years to come.

The PowerExecutive product, and now AEM, are both delivered as an extension to IBM Director or as a standalone product. The extension version requires that IBM Director be installed first. The standalone version has no prerequisites other than a supported operating system. There’s a server portion and client portion of each version. The server portion is supported on Microsoft Windows, Linux on System x and Linux on POWER.

For AEM V3.1, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 and Novell SUSE Linux 9 and 10 are officially supported. The extension version of AEM 3.1 requires Director 5.20.2 installed.

Support for the Power Architecture

One of the main focuses of AEM 3.1 is support for the Power Architecture. The new POWER6 processor-based systems have built-in capabilities that save energy without any user interaction, as well as functions that enable users to control the system’s energy characteristics. Although every POWER6 server has different characteristics (not every model includes all of these characteristics), here are some of the most important ones:

Automatic features (always in effect, not controlled by AEM):

  • Oversubscription (allows one power supply to carry the load if a redundant supply fails)
  • Processor core nap (stops processor execution when there’s no work to do)
  • Energy scale for I/O (automatically powers off pluggable peripheral component interconnect adapter slots not in use)

Features controlled through AEM:

  • Power-use monitoring over time
  • Temperature monitoring over time
  • Power saver mode
  • Power capping
  • Monitoring of effective CPU available over time

Jeff Van Heuklon is responsible for strategy and architecture for the Active Energy Manager product. He is a senior technical staff member at IBM with 25 years of experience in firmware and software design.

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