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SPEC has introduced a new power-efficiency measurement standard for CPU architectures. The winner? The consumer

SPEC, the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation, is a non-profit corporation whose goal is to provide "fair, impartial and meaningful benchmarks for computers."

With the latest excitement and fuss over AMD's K10 power usage figures, SPEC conveniently announced a new set of benchmarks to compare power efficiency of CPUs based on an independent and unbiased standard.  The standard holds the promise of a level playing field for CPU manufacturers to test the quality of their products on. 

SPEC's new solution is dubbed the SPECpower_ssj2008.  The test, which is to be run on a server, takes the chip through a series of graduated descending workloads, starting at 100% usage and dropping by 10% per set period of time until idle is reached.  The total processor throughputs for each segment are first summed and then divided by the sum of the average power consumed for each segment.  The final product is a performance measure called "ssj_opps/Watt."

The test is promising, as it takes into account that workloads on a server vary greatly, and calculates efficiency based on a sensible averaging approach.  With AMD championing their new ACP standard, and Intel still advertising its modified TDP standard, finding understandable and accurate comparative power-performance figures has become a rather confusing business for the average customer.

A unified power-performance standard could certainly change that.  It provides Intel and AMD with a chance to truly put their processors' power prowess to the test in an unbiased benchmark -- if they are willing.

This test is geared towards measuring power-efficiency across a wide pattern of usage, and probably would not be very applicable to providing information on the specific cooling solutions needed for a particular processor.  For cooling evaluation, traditional TDP measurements would be of greatest use, as they test the processor power under a steady 100% real load scenario.

In terms of power-efficiency, though, SPEC's new system hopes to bring honesty, integrity, a renewed sense of competition to the processor market.  At a lowly cost of $1,600 for the software, Intel and AMD should be eager to put this independent benchmarking suite to work.


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Java Workloads
By TomZ on 12/11/2007 4:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
One thing that is interesting about the SPEC standard is that they are using Java workloads on the server. Does anybody think there would be any problems translating or correlating the results to workloads using other technologies, e.g., Microsoft server technology stack?

I'm thinking the results would be directly applicable, just wondering what others think.




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