Consult with Intel® experts on HPC topics
19 Discussions

How 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors Enable More Sustainable Data Centers

0 0 3,471

Posted on behalf of Merlin Kister, Senior Director, Intel Product Sustainability

In 2021, data centers devoured 0.9-1.3 percent of electricity globally. That statistic is mind-boggling. And with the ever-increasing demand for compute, it will take significant effort to minimize any increase and hopefully decrease that figure. I’m proud to see many major technology companies like ours recognize this challenge and step up to address it.  At Intel, our mission is building a more sustainable computing industry from manufacturing to product to solution. In this blog, I wanted to highlight some of our progress toward that goal and how we can help our customers make their data centers more efficient with our 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.

New regulations regarding climate disclosures make the pursuit of data center sustainability mandatory. For example, new European reporting standards for climate-related disclosures will take effect in 2024. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also proposed new rules in the US. Other types of regulations, like China’s power usage effectiveness (PUE) targets, require more specific actions for data center managers nationwide. Combined, guidelines like these serve as a forcing function for greener computing. But adhering to eco-friendly data center practices also offers our customers significant benefits – especially long-term cost savings.

In many countries, electricity prices skyrocketed in recent years. During the first half of 2022, European gas and coal prices tripled, causing huge jumps in wholesale electricity costs for many markets. In a data center environment, nearly 90% of the carbon emissions can come from operating and cooling IT equipment. Water is also expensive, and a 100-megawatt data center uses an average of 1.1 million gallons daily.[1] That averages out to 1.8 liters of water per kilowatt-hour! For these reasons, data centers architected with sustainability in mind prove highly attractive to businesses.


Making sustainability easier

Reducing a carbon footprint isn’t easy for companies, but Intel is helping to make that process more turnkey. As we all know, massive data centers with thousands of processors require significant electricity to run properly. Then, keeping the chips cool consumes even more energy. To help address this challenge, our 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors incorporate several innovations that help reduce the amount of electricity required for complex workloads, including those involving AI. They are Intel’s most sustainable processors ever!

First, the latest chip architecture offers built-in accelerators to increase workload performance per watt.[2] For example, Intel Deep Learning Boost can speed up AI workloads.[3] Because workloads can finish more quickly, the process consumes less electricity. Second, 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Processors also feature built-in telemetry. With tools like Data Center Manager, customers can monitor, measure and control electricity consumption and carbon emissions.

At the application level and workload level, Intel provides additional energy-saving technology. Through Granulate software (an Intel company), cloud applications are optimized autonomously and continuously for core count and power.  We also have Kubernetes tools such as Power Manager and Telemetry Aware Software that can bring more carbon awareness to the software stack for energy reduction.

Liquid cooling can also help reduce the amount of electricity and water data centers require. Intel has worked with various partners on validating cooling fluid and solutions and helped create reference documents that simplify liquid cooling deployment. Intel also offers the industry’s first immersion cooling warranty rider for select Xeon Scalable processors.

We also want to help customers reuse and recycle old hardware when possible. We can accomplish that through “modular” products allowing customers to upgrade the components within an older server. This approach enables customers to save money by increasing the service life of data center hardware while reducing the amount of old equipment that might end up in a landfill.  Reference designs and specifications through the Open Compute Project are available now, and we hope to see this modular approach to data center hardware commercially available over the next several years.


Change starts at home

Intel is constantly evaluating ways to make processor manufacturing more sustainable, for example, powering our manufacturing sites with renewable electricity. Water use is also critical to our fabs, but we want to minimize our consumption and achieve water-positive factory usage. In other words, we intend to replenish more water than we use. Today, we create 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors using 93-100% renewable electricity for lower scope three emissions for customers and in 2022 conserved 9.6B gallons of water.[4]   

While Intel still has work ahead to reach all its environmental and sustainability goals, we’ve made significant progress and impact. We will continue to work together with industry partners and our supply chain to create a more sustainable compute industry. 


Notices and Disclaimers

Performance varies by use, configuration and other factors. Learn more at www.Intel.com/PerformanceIndex​.  

Performance results are based on testing as of dates shown in configurations and may not reflect all publicly available ​updates.  See backup for configuration details.  No product or component can be absolutely secure. 

Your costs and results may vary. 

Intel does not control or audit third-party data. You should consult other sources to evaluate accuracy. Your costs and results may vary.

Intel technologies may require enabled hardware, software or service activation.

© Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.


[1] https://eta-publications.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/lbnl-1005775_v2.pdf

[2] https://edc.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/performance/benchmarks/4th-generation-intel-xeon-scalable-processors/

[3] https://www.edge-ai-vision.com/2019/06/increasing-ai-performance-and-efficiency-with-intel-dl-boost/

[4] https://csrreportbuilder.intel.com/pdfbuilder/pdfs/CSR-2022-23-Full-Report.pdf