As any IT manager can tell you, 100 percent utilization is very difficult to achieve on today’s computer clusters for any sustained length of time. The result is idle compute cycles that waste electrical energy. To mediate this problem, Portuguese scientists at Lisbon University have developed SPIRIT, an automated system capable of turning servers on and off according to workload needs.
Used worldwide, SPIRIT could result in yearly savings equivalent to the energy produced by a 1000 MW Nuclear Power Station, or, in other words, a reduction of about five million tons of CO2 emissions every year” (the emissions of 6.5 millions London-NY flights).
Carlos Reis and Jorge Pacheco, the two scientists behind the project, explain that SPIRIT works by turning off all idle computers when the work queue is empty and turning on the necessary computers as new tasks are detected.