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Data Center Efficiency Series – Part 4: Server Hardware and the Processor

Part 4: Server Hardware and Processor Efficiency

Replacing out dated server hardware with newer, more efficient server can help save space and reduce the energy and power required to run the data center. The entire data center infrastructure design contributes to the overall efficiency. These components include processors, memory, and power supplies systems.


The processor is one of the major power consumers in servers, and the processor type has a big impact on server efficiency. It is important to select processors that are equipped to match the tasks they are needed to perform. There are a few processors out there that are designed to consume less power and higher performance depending on work load. Some suggested processors include Intel Xeon, Sun UltraSPARC T Series, and AMD Opteron processors.

There are also additional features that help reduce power consumption at the processor level to consider. For example, Intel processors have Demand Based Switching (DBS), which dynamically tailors power consumption to workloads, ratcheting down processor power states whenever peak performance is not required. This can substantially reduce average power consumption for servers operating at typical data center utilization rates. Intel processors also feature dynamic power management. Power delivery to key processor subsystems is dynamically managed during run time to continuously optimize performance versus power efficiency as workloads vary.

AMD Opteron
AMD Opteron –


With increasing processor speeds, server manufacturers are adopting the fastest Fully Buffered Dual Inline Memory Modules (FB-DIMMs), which in turn increases power consumption. So look to install the fewest, most dense FB-DIMMs for the requirements, to lower the amount of power consumption.


Power Supplies

Power supplies of a server must be able to withstand maximum load with all memory and PCI slots in use, running at 100 percent utilization. Most servers operate at 50 percent or less of their stated power, a range where many power supplies can be relatively inefficient. A good rule of thumb is to use power supplies that are at least 80% more efficient at lower work loads.

Defining the “Energy Efficient Server”

Intel has established a definition for what an “Energy Efficient Server” should do. The definition includes:

“• Reduce energy usage for non-compute functions through:
– Energy-efficient power delivery (using energy-efficient voltage regulators, power supply units, and other components).
– Energy-efficiency processors incorporating advanced power management capabilities and manufactured with the latest silicon process technology using High-k gate dielectric materials to minimize leakage.

• Provide fine-grained component power management (such as memory power management and Demand-Based Switching) along the load line to:
– Minimize power consumption at system idle.
– Provide monitoring and policy-based control of platform power consumption.
– Allow peak server power consumption to be”

Next week we will discuss part 5 of the series on Storage Efficiency…

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