Energy Use & Climate Change
EMC’s global carbon footprint expands far beyond the technologies and resources needed to create our products – the biggest environmental impacts occur as a result of the energy consumed during product use. We are continuously working to improve the energy efficiency of all of our products – hardware and software – in order to generate savings for our customers and help them reduce their environmental impact. This involves efficiencies that can be gained by the products themselves as well as efficiencies realized when products are used in combination.
To learn more about how data center efficiencies come to life at EMC, visit Efficient Data Centers.
Environmental Lifecycle Analysis
We employ tools and processes to measure and improve the sustainability of our products – allowing us to use current product development to help inform future sustainability practices. This process starts with our designers and architects, who gain insights into sustainable product design by using proxy indication systems that are embedded into their design tools. As the process continues, our engineers consult development checklists to ensure products adhere to our corporate standards and best practices. During the final stage, when products become ready for general release, we conduct a lifecycle analysis (LCA) on representative product configurations to inform future efforts.
In late 2010 and 2011, EMC collaborated with an external third party to complete two LCAs using industry-recognized tools. The first was a cradle-to-gate analysis of one of our highest volume subsystem products. The other was a cradle-to-grave analysis (including use) of a typical configuration of one of our midrange products.
The LCA projects measured the following impacts:
- Water (kg water use)
- Resource Depletion (kg Sb-equiv)
- Primary Energy Demand, Non-Renewable (MJ)
- Acidification (kg SO2-equiv)
- Eutrophication (kg PO43--equiv)
- Global Warming (kg CO2-equiv)
- Ozone Depletion (kg R11-equiv)
- Smog Creation (kg C2H4-equiv)
The project evaluated these specific environmental indicators, but did not address community or social issues, finance and governance or other aspects of environmental sustainability, such as waste generation, toxic materials or impact on biodiversity. As a result, the outcomes are not the sole consideration but serve as a guide to focus efforts and inform decisions.
EMC had several goals for the project, including:
- Providing sustainability guidance for designers
- Informing and improving our proxy LCA tool and Design for Environment (DfE) checklist
- Confirming our most material impacts in order to prioritize efforts
- Helping us gain knowledge in how best to utilize LCAs to inform product development
The results confirmed our expectations that more than 90 percent of lifecycle impacts were due to electricity consumed during the product use phase. Other areas of impact include the manufacturing of disk drives, transportation of materials to and from the customer, energy consumed during testing and semiconductor manufacturing. Areas of relatively low impact include equipment warehousing, inbound transport from suppliers, internal transport between facilities and packaging.
These findings help guide our strategy and focus our efforts. Moving forward, we will continue:
- Increasing the energy efficiency of our products
- Advocating for best practices in reduction of PUE
- Implementing standards that help measure and define areas for energy-efficient operations of information technology (IT) equipment
- Working with suppliers to reduce impacts of manufacturing disk drives
- Investigating less carbon intensive options for transport of products and components
- Working to minimize transportation of cabinets and other high volume, heavy components
- Exploring lightweighting techniques
- Reducing material impacts by informing design decisions
- Improving packaging efficiency without compromising efficacy
- Maximizing recovery and recycling of products at end-of-use
EMC offers a variety of disk drives to meet varying needs of capacity, performance and cost – each with its own set of characteristics to consider when pursuing energy efficiency. For example, high-capacity SATA drives use less power but have slower performance. In contrast, lower capacity FC/SAS drives use more energy but have a higher performance. In addition, there are innumerable efficiencies that can be explored with using data drives in tandem with other technologies.
We were the first in the industry to use flash, or solid state, drives in enterprise storage systems. Enterprise flash drives offer energy efficiency in high-performance computing, using up to 97.7 percent less energy per IOP (operations per second) than FC/SAS drives, and up to 38 percent less energy per terabyte of data stored. The energy savings come from their solid state nature—they do not spin like conventional disk drives—and from the potential to reduce the total number of drives required across an entire system to achieve stringent performance targets. Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST™) technology can leverage the more efficient enterprise drives at the highest tier and the more efficient ATA drives at the lowest tier to achieve both greater efficiency and greater performance across the spectrum of service levels.
Efficient Power & Cooling
Beyond drives, there are three other key initiatives for reducing power use in our storage platforms:
- Using more efficient power supplies to reduce energy loss as power is delivered to the storage platform. The use of high efficiency, capacity optimized power supplies reduces total equipment power and minimizes the generation of waste heat. This can yield significant savings in the facility cooling and power distribution infrastructure. EMC’s newest power supplies now operate with up to 92% efficiency, improving by several percentage points on the previous power supplies from the previous class.
- Embedding instrumentation and utilizing effective tools to monitor and report power use and ambient temperature.
- Embracing adaptive cooling technology to save energy by dynamically adjusting fan speeds in the storage platform. Our adaptive cooling technology continuously samples the external environment and adjusts its operation to minimize power consumption while maintaining reliability.