If you are just trying to get your application live on the Internet, you might be under the impression that “green IT” and “Power Usage Efficiency” is something the infrastructure guys should worry about. As an hardware enthusiast working for an internet company, you probably worry a lot more about keeping everything “in the air” than the power budget of your servers. Still, it will have escaped no one’s attention that power is a big issue.


But instead of reiterating the clichés again, let us take a simple example. Let us say that you need a humble setup of 4 servers to run your services on the internet. Each server consuming 250W when running at a high load (CPU at 60% or so). If you are based in the US, that means that you need about 10-11 amps: 1000W  divided by 110V plus a safety margin. In Europe, you’ll need about 5 amps (Voltage = 230V). In Europe you’ll pay up to $100 per month per amp that you need. The US prices vary typically between $15 and $30 per amp per month. So depending on where you live, it is not uncommon to pay something like $300 to $500 per month just to feed electricity to your servers. In the worst case, you are paying up to $6000 per year ($100 x 5 x 12 months) to keep a very basic setup up and running. That is $24000 in four years. If you buy new servers every 4 years, you probably end up spending more on power than on the hardware!

Keeping an eye on power when choosing the hardware and software components is thus much more than naively following the hype of “green IT”. It is simply the smart thing to do. We take another shot at understanding how choosing your server components wisely can give you a cost advantage. In this article, we focus on low power Xeons in a consolidated Hyper-V/Windows 2008 virtualization scenario. Do Low Power Xeons save energy and costs? We designed a new and improved methodology to find out.

The new methodology
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  • Zstream - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    It kills the AMD low power motto :(
  • duploxxx - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    lol, all that you can say about this article is something about AMD. Looks like you need an update on server knowledge, Since the Arrival of Nehalem Intel has the best offer when you need the highest performance parts and when using Low power parts which give still the best performance. Since MC arrived things got a bit different mostly due to aggressive price for all mid value but still a favor to intel parts for highend and L power bins. Certainly in the area of virtualization AMD does very well

    What is shown here should be known to many people that design virtual environments, Virtualization and low power parts don't match if you run applications that need cpu power and response all the time, L series can only be very useful for a huge bunch of "sleeping" vm's.

    Interesting would be to compare with AMD, but 9/10 both low power and high power intel parts will be more interesting when you will only run 1 tile, the huge core amount lower ipc advantage will loose against the higher ipc/core of intel in this battle.
  • Zstream - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Excuse me? I am quite aware of low power consuming chips. The point AMD has made in the past four to five years is that low power and high performance can match Intel's performance and still save you money. I have been to a number of AMD web conferences and siminars were they state the above.
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I have been to a number of AMD web conferences and siminars were they state the above.

    Not sure if you're being sarcastic here, as it's obvious AMD would tell you this.

    But regarding the actual question: you'd be about right if you compared K8 or Phenom I based Opterons with Core 2 based ones. And you'd be very right if you compared them to Phenom II. However, the performance of these Intels is being held back by the FSB and FB-DIMMs and power efficiency is almost crippled by the FB-DIMMs. But Nehalem changed all of that.

  • duploxxx - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    4-5 years.... Nehalem was launched q12009 since then all changed. Before that Xeon parts suffered from FBDimm powerconsumption and FSB bottleneck and that is why AMD was still king on power/performance and was able to keep up with max performance. Nehalem was king, Istanbul was able to close the gap a bit but missed raw ghz and had higher power needs due to ddr2, again MC parts leveraged back this intel advantage and now there is a choice again, but L power still is king to Neh/Gulf.
  • Penti - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    It invalidates low power versions of AMDs also. That's he's point I would believe.
  • stimudent - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Not really.
    If there can't be two sides to the story or a more diverse perspective, then it should not have been published. Next time, wait a little longer for parts to arrive - try harder next time.
  • MrSpadge - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    A comparison to AMD would have been nice, but this article is not Intel vs. AMD!

    It already has 2 side: high power vs. low power Intels. And Johan found something very important and worthy of reporting. No need to blur the point by including other chips.

  • Zstream - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I know we have the VMware results but could someone do an analysis on AMD / INTEL chips?

    For instance I can get a 12 core AMD chip or a 6 core/12 HT chip from Intel. Has anyone done any test with Terminal Servers or Real world usage of a VM (XP Desktop) with core count?

    I would think that a physical 12C vs 6C impacts real world performance by a considerable large amount.
  • tech6 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Great work Anandtech - it's about time someone took the low power TCO claims to task.

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