Does low power always mean a performance sacrifice?

Not according to the latest SPECpower benchmark results. But first, no doubt you all saw the excellent press coverage the new low voltage Xeon announcement garnered. But what does it mean in practical terms?

Well, let me remind you of our low power line up: We have several new 45nm high-k metal gate quad-core Intel Xeon processors, two of which have a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 50W and one that has a TDP of only 40W (mainly for use in embedded applications). These chips are up to 25% faster than their 65nm predecessors. It is worth noting that we also have a range of quad-core desktop chips, including versions that come in 65W flavours ideal for small desktop form factors.

And power is an important consideration in the datacentre, where according to IDC every Watt represents an energy and cooling spend of $2 per year. Previously, measuring power efficient performance was a difficult task with many methodologies. Do you measure TDP’s? Add them together to make an arbitrary number? Or use idle power? or create some kind of average power half-way house? None of these solutions was satisfactory. Was just low power important? Or did you also need to measure performance?

So the industry has come together to create a benchmark to measure power efficiency, and the new Intel low voltage chips have raced to the top of the ladder to claim the top prize. (At the time of writing) SPECpower is the first and so far only industry standard energy efficiency benchmark.

The new chips also boast a very low idle power of only 16 Watts – this is just 4 Watts PER CORE!!! How does Intel do this? Well, smart design and the wonders of Intel’s magic 45nm high-k metal gate silicon process technology. This make the processors ideal for use in blades and other high density form factors.

Now that you are going to rush out and purchase large numbers of these new chips – what else can you do to make sure your system is as energy efficient as possible? Try these helpful tips:

- Use fewer, larger memory DIMMS. The more memory sticks you have, the more power you will consume overall.

- Use a power efficient power supply. Look for the 80Plus sticker or click here.

- Switch on all Power Management options such as ‘Demand Based Switching, C1E, etc…

Happy shopping!

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