New server 'space heater' benchmark in the works

How hot is your box?

Processor Forum The server benchmark wars will soon extend into new territory thanks to work being done to refine a standard energy consumption test.

The non-profit Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. (SPEC), that has given us many of the benchmarks we all know and love, has decided to jump on the power consumption bandwagon. The organization has started creating a committee to come up with some "standard methods and metrics" to evaluate the energy use of servers. Power consumption and performance per watt have become the, er, hottest topics in the server industry due to rising power costs, melting data centers and the popularity of new multicore processors that eat up less power per core than past products such as Xeon and Itanium.

SPEC notes that the likes of AMD, Dell, HP, Intel, IBM and Sun Microsystems will all deliver input to the new committee. Sun has already been flogging its own SWaP metric, although it's a bit of a wasted effort since rivals will never adopt Sun's formula as a standard.

It's hard to get excited about the introduction of yet another SPEC benchmark that will no doubt be tweaked and abused by vendors to suit their needs.

David Kanter at Real World Technologies, however, did help put some perspective on the matter saying, "In many respects, the current state of affairs for measuring power, energy or compute density is similar to the same sorry state that performance measurement was circa the 1980s, when Dhrystone MIPS were the metric of choice. Ironically, it was this dismal situation that prompted the creation of SPEC itself in 1988 and the subsequent release of SPEC CPU 89."

The creation of an energy consumption metric was inevitable, and SPEC might as well be the one to do it. The organization hopes to have something ready by the first quarter of 2007. There's more information here. ®

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