18 Aug 2022

Environmental Considerations Blog

One of the most keenly debated topics at the 2022 HPA was how the post industry can achieve the best environmental performance. Everyone recognises that it is now imperative we find ways of minimising our impact on the planet.

It is hard to get accurate information on the media industry alone, but the IEEE suggests that the whole ICT industry could represent as much as 20% of the world’s electricity consumption by 2025. It is widely reported that the internet now emits more CO2 than the airline industry.

As individuals we can play our part: at GB Labs we have taken some measures, such as switching to energy saving lightbulbs and LED lighting in office; we encourage the use of electric cars, with free staff charging at our offices; air conditioning is turned off in rooms where it is not needed; and we recycle all our waste and toner cartridges. But we must take a look at how we can reduce our impact through our products too. There are probably four areas of prime consideration: the manufacturing process, the impact of shipping, continuing running costs, and end of life disposal.

The bracketing topics are pretty much standard across the industry. We buy the same disk drives as everyone else; our electronics modules are made in the same way; we use recycled materials wherever practical. Disposal of electronic devices is now a well-advanced practice: one way in which we can make a positive contribution is to ensure that our products have as long a life as possible, minimising the need for component and materials recycling.

Our approach to storage solutions, though, does have an impact. GB Labs storage solutions are built on NAS rather than SAN storage. This may seem an arcane difference, of interest only to network architects.

But there is an important difference in this context. SAN architecture depends upon many hardware items such as two meta data controllers (MDC) a transport layer switch (usually Fibre Channel,) a metadata switch (Ethernet) a main data storage or multiple units within a storage pool and a separate storage unit carrying the metadata. So for just one SAN there is likely to be multiple storage units, multiple switches and multiple servers making the total hardware footprint much greater than a single chassis NAS appliance, even with optional expanders.

Taking a typical enterprise-class drive as an example, its data sheet shows that the power consumption of an individual drive is 6.5W in use, and 5.6W when nominally idle. Multiply that by all the drives in each storage unit and, over the course of a year, the power consumption mounts up.

Of course the large files of media projects will take the same amount of disk space whatever the architecture. But in the GB Labs NAS solution there is no need for separate metadata servers, dedicated metadata storage or an additional metadata network.

The biggest single consumer of energy in a server, though, is the CPU. Because the NAS architecture is much more efficient in terms of required hardware, the total power saving is very significant. You might expect to need two times or more the amount of energy to power a SAN compared with a similar capacity NAS. And, as much of the power in an electronic device ends up as heat, there is a similar increase in demands placed upon the air conditioning.

Building on this, GB Labs have embraced SSD acceleration with HDD in many products within the range and for multiple years has proven that a small amount of hardware can outperform racks and racks of hardware making the small footprint desirable when looking to acquire suitable performance.

That advantage is actually considerable. In typical head-to-head calculations, GB Labs architectures deliver performance that other vendors would need two to three times the amount of hardware to achieve. In some cases it could be as much as a tenfold efficiency boost.

Our software tools like Nitro, HyperSpace and Dynamic Bandwidth Control are designed primarily to provide the highest levels of performance for our users. But you can turn that on its head, and consider that, with GB Labs software, you can achieve what you need for your business with less hardware and greater efficiency.

Overall, the solution also saves manufacturing costs, there is less weight to ship, significantly lower operational costs in direct power consumption and cooling, the use of standard hardware with powerful software means its lifetime is extended, and there is less to recycle when it does reach end of life.

Read the full article here - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/environmental-considerations-gblabs1 

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