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Big Blue puts power-guzzling data centres on a diet

$1bn a year push to double capacity by 2010 using no more juice

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IBM is expected to announce a $1bn per year plan to double the worldwide computing capacity of its data centres by 2010 without increasing power consumption.

An article on the New York Times' website suggests that Big Blue engineers will use a range of technologies to rein in electricity-guzzling computer facilities.

These will reportedly include cooling systems which store heat energy for later use and chill the hardware only as needed, and software tools which will use machinery more efficiently. There may also be sophisticated new airflow-modelling techniques, increasing ventilation while reducing power requirements.

IBM is the largest data centre operator in the world and energy consumption is becoming one of the main costs of running such facilities. The NYT estimates that the number of data centre servers has sextupled over the last 10 years to 30 million machines, driven by the rise of internet takeup and proliferation of online services.

Power consumption is a hot IT industry-wide topic, and IBM has already allied with other firms in the "Green Grid" energy-saving initiative. The firm will no doubt seek to position this new push as eco-friendly, too: however, it seems there won't be any attempt to reduce power use, merely to hold down the rate at which it increases.

IBM is expected to comment later today. ®

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