Print 30 comment(s) - last by aalaardb.. on Dec 12 at 4:38 PM

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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RE: Not very useful because...
By aalaardb on 12/12/2007 1:32:24 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, I almost forgot.
In terms of efficiency of the PSU as you try to argue, it does not matter.

Yes, the PSU difference is relevant and quite possibly even prominent. To see why, let's take an Intel CPU, put it on a MB, and add some ram to it. To get this up and running we don't need a hard drive or keyboard or anything, but we do need a PSU. Company A takes this server configuration and adds an 80% efficient PSU, and Company B takes the same but adds a 90% efficient PSU. These 2 servers have the same performance, in fact quite obviously the architechure has the same capabilities in energy, but B will have a better SPEC score than A. Same thing if we happen to be comparing AMD and Intel. So actually that confirms that this shouldn't be used to compare apples to oranges, and confirms that this score isn't exact on the characteristics of an architechure and so won't mean much to the average consumer.

RE: Not very useful because...
By JumpingJack on 12/12/2007 2:57:07 AM , Rating: 1
You see the problem is you are not holding the bench in the correct prespective.... put a power meter between the plug and the computer and measure power... this represents what you will pay for the power bill. All components, even PSU efficiency accounted.

It does not matter what the overall PSU efficiency is, this is a 'DESIGN' consideration by the OEM who makes the box... if they shove a 25% efficient PSU in the box... so be it... they will pay the price in lost sales.

Same thing with RAM, if RAM is pulling too much power, the OEM pulls it out... sacrifying perfomrance, both cases reflected in the metric.

It is platform level...

An enterprise procurement will not care about whose processer is in the box in so much as they want a low power, high performing, stable system. This power metric gives them one part of the procurement equation.

You are taking a platform and trying to drill down to a single component... this is futile.

RE: Not very useful because...
By JumpingJack on 12/12/2007 3:20:34 AM , Rating: 1
On last thing... it is late but want to make sure it gets in...

Yes, comparing system to system is the intent of the benchmark. However, the article said it was the intent of the benchmark to compare CPU to CPU, which it is not.

This clarifies the point of your original post much better... yes, the article does indeed allude to a CPU level comparision for this new bench when it is the farthest thing from it.

RE: Not very useful because...
By aalaardb on 12/12/2007 4:38:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I had thought because that was quoted right off the bat that that would be the understood intent of the post. You can question how much use it will be to a system administrator, but of use to the average consumer because it compares CPU to CPU... well no. All else is just details.

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