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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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RE: Not very useful because...
By JumpingJack on 12/12/2007 3:10:11 AM , Rating: 2
"Then you agree with me when I say that the byline assertion "SPEC has introduced a new power-efficiency measurement standard for CPU architectures. The winner? The consumer" is false.

I will go back and go over the entire post, this will be an interesting discussion I am sure... but on this point...

Yes and no, I both agree and disagree -- I will divide this into two parts, first your statement then a general comment on the article.

This is the first step toward establishing a standard that provides a consistent way of measuring and reporting power. Without that, then the market is flooded with PR hype from both sides -- AMD and Intel. You have Intel who measures TDP but gives some ambiguity and does not define what 'worst case' app they use, furtermore Intel does not even define any kind of 'consumption' metric to go by... AMD invents this ACP metric, which is questionable in it's methods for reporting the result... stating == "we account for margin based on historical learning from the AMD manufacturing process" ... paraphrased.

In the end, both Intel and AMD statements are bogus from a consumption point of view because the CPU is a component (a sizable percentage granted) piece of the equation.

Now, general comment about the DT article ... meh ... I would not call it false but I would not have chosen those words either. Also, they label AMD APC and Intel TDP as 'standards' they are not. Intel has not APC equivalent to state consumption either, so it is pointless to even discuss that part.

Finally, I think the strength of my rebuttal was more a knee-jerk reaction to a more or less 'negative sentiment' about a power benchmark. I don't disagree that for a consumer level utility, this is useless... I will not be watching out for reviews and making my purchasing decisions based on whether or not this bench ran. It is simply not that important to me..... what is important I believe is that the industry moves to a standard way to test and compare at the server/platform/enterprise level.... Especially this way... why?

- It brings into focus all the platform parts that waste power, not just the CPU.

- It directs attention for all manufactures to improve their power profiles from memory to PSU to chipset to CPU.

With that comes a halo effect, which ultimately will benefit me at the consumer level.


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