The future is performance per watt.

Given the way that the energy markets have gone during the past year, it was fairly obvious that there was going to be a focus on power, and performance per watt. Some may say that power is irrelevant and performance is key. While performance is important, performance per Watt is more important. Both Intel and AMD are focusing on ways of delivering more performance with less power - it is the future. We're facing rising energy prices everyday, and those numbers trickle down to everyone, whether you are drying your clothes, or running a few racks of servers at a datacenter.

Recently, we spoke to a bandwidth provider in one of the largest datacenters on the US east coast. The datacenter that this provider uses for its services is out of power. They can't add any more racks because the datacenter doesn't have enough power. We're not talking about a small datacenter either; this is a very large datacenter that serves some of the world's largest websites. They can't get anymore power because government regulations won't allow it; so, now what? They have to find ways to reduce power consumption.

Space is also a concern at most datacenters, so blade systems are becoming very popular at the datacenter. IDC recently forecasted that blade systems would reach 8% of the server market this year, from 2% a year ago. Blade systems may solve the space problem, but add to the power problem, as you end up with a more power-dense environment.

Intel's performance per watt play won't come into full effect until next year, with Woodcrest. Rough numbers for Woodcrest put it at somewhere in the 80Watt range or less. If you think back over the past few years at how the focus has been all about performance, people seem to have overlooked where AMD is in terms of performance per Watt. The Opteron has been competitive with Intel since its inception not only on performance, but delivering that performance in a lower power envelope. The Opteron 280 processor is a 95 Watt part already, and has been very competitive with Intel's Xeon.

Intel Power/Performance Roadmap

Index Test Configuration


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  • OrphanBoy - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    Ok, I haven't got one of these new chips, but my work machine that I'm sitting at right now has 2x3.6GHz Noconas with a 7800 GTX and I often run it at full whack - the amount of power I must be drawing has to be huge!

    Nearly half a kilowatt per machine is a scary thought!
  • Cygni - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    Imagine a Pentium D EE on an Nvidia Intel SLI board with those quad-7800GT's from over at Toms. Maybe throw a few a nice RAID 5 array in too. Thats gotta pull down some SERIOUS wattage! Cant wait until the day that turning my gaming rig on for the first time trips my breaker, haha. Reply
  • Cygni - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    Of note, these arent 64bit results. I get the feeling that 64bit linux results would favor the Opty even more.

    The FB-DIMM controller and use of multiple FSB's (FINALLY!!!) really boosts the performance here to serious competition levels. This box would make a serious workstation powerhouse.

    But, as noted, Opty will likely have moved on quite a bit by the time this package is released. And it has better 64bit. And its platform is already available. But it is certainly interesting to see Intel really dominate a performance benchmark for the first time in a long time.
  • Peter - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    >use of multiple FSB's (FINALLY!!!)

    ... and only two years after AMD abandoned the dual-FSB approach and went HyperTransport.

    For those who forget quickly :) the Athlon-MP chipset (AMD762 north) was using dual independent FSB.
  • Viditor - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link


    Of note, these arent 64bit results

    A very good doesn't make sense with the memory used to not use 64bit as well.

    Jason, could you let us know why you used 32 bit instead of 64 bit?
  • Jason Clark - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    We're going to look at 64bit in the new year. You have to realize most all of the general public running a windows 2003 server are running 32bit still. 64bit is not quite as adopted as you may think. That being said, we are going to look at 64 bit in the new year with sql 2005.

  • Viditor - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link


    we are going to look at 64 bit in the new year with sql 2005

    Fair enough, and thanks for the first peek!
    Enjoy your Holidays, then get out there and find us some MORE cool stuff to learn! ;)

  • Cygni - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    Its likely what Intel let them run at the time, as i doubt they shipped Anandtech a working system for their own use. :D

    Also, driver support is probably in its infancy. May not even have linux or x64 support today. Probably only Intel knows. But i think we can assume that 64bit will be similar to the current Xeons.
  • Griswold - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    Opteron 280 = available now
    "Bensley/Dempsey" = ???

    Btw, What about the Opteron 285SE at 2.6GHz that is exclusively used in the SUN Fire X4200? Should rectify the performance chart as well.
  • Heinz - Saturday, December 17, 2005 - link

    Yes that issue also catched my eye, actually it is a little bit a apples to oranges comparision. There are systems available now set up against systems available in Q2 or even H2 next year. Quote:

    Demspey is going to take us well into Q2 of next year, and Woodcrest will appear sometime in the second half of next year. Woodcrest will be a lower wattage part that is focused on performance per Watt.

    Well .. one should look at the AMD roadmap, what's in AMDs portfolio by then. Then you can declare a "winner" for the 2006 server market. Then the choice is really possible. Up to now there is not *any* choice. Everybody has to buy the AMD system, as the Intel is simply not available.

    I know that you cannot test Socket F now, thus you end up with the next best solution, which is an Opteron 280 system, but my point is, that you should have at least mentioned Socket F. These can/may (still speculation) deliver performance increases for AMD in 2006, too.

    Without that, the pure bottomline (performance) results of your article is, that a 2006 system is better than a 2005 one. Not really great news... even if it is about an Intel system being faster than AMD :)

    So for more objective articles, please try to cover all point of views of the industry. Without that, bad boys might question anandtechs independency, exspecially after you were invited to a nice(?) trip to the Intel headquarter ... no offense here, just trying to make a fair comment. After all it was a nice overview over the next-gen Intel platform with a lot of information.



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