True Value: Assessing and Optimizing the Cost of Computing at the Data Center Level

There are five main components to the cost of delivering computing in a data center: (i) the construction of the data center building itself; (ii) the power and cooling infrastructure for the data center; (iii) the acquisition cost of the servers that populate the data center; (iv) the cost of electricity to power (and cool) the servers; and (v) the cost of managing those servers. We first study the fundamental economics of operating such a data center with a model that captures the first four costs. We call these the physical cost, as it does not include the labor cost. We show that it makes economic sense to design data centers for relatively low power densities, and that increasing server utilization is an efficient way to reduce total cost of computation. We then develop a cost/performance model that includes the management cost and allows the evaluation of the optimal server size for consolidation. We show that, for a broad range of operating and cost conditions, servers with 4 to 16 processor sockets result in the lowest total cost of computing.

By: John Karidis, José E. Moreira, Jaime Moreno

Published in: RC24768 in 2009


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