Dialing in your Datacenter – using Intel Dynamic Power Datacenter Manager

Everyone is talking “green-energy” and “power-efficiency” these days. Reducing carbon footprint, renewable energy, CFLs, solar power, biking instead of driving, etc… the list goes on forever. Many people are excited to do something to change power consumption, but as a server administrator - are the proper tools in place?

Many of you have probably experienced the power/efficiency example at home. When the summer gets hot - many of us run to the thermostat and set it accordingly. When it's REALLY hot outside, we tend to twist the dial cooler - knowing all along, that our electric bill will most likely be higher at the end of the billing cycle. So, what do we do?

Some of us just live with the higher bills, some of us turn off the A/C and struggle in the heat - but I'd hope that most of us set the thermostat to a 'livable' temperature - it may not be the coolest, but it's enough to do the job and keep the electricity bills at a more moderate level - in a sense, it's a happy medium. In today's modern age, thermostats are programmable - taking a lot of the guesswork out of our hands and automating many of the old day-to-day temperature functions that our parents had to follow... Intel server platforms are evolving in this realm as well!

As a server admin, do you have the tools and technologies to reduce power consumption? There are several avenues addressing this issue, and I suggest reading the post from Lori Wigle on http://communities.intel.com/openport/community/openportit/server/blog/2007/11/14/data-center-efficiency. The datacenter is different from the desktop… server admins aren’t likely to enable sleep states to save energy – but rather, increase utilization on fewer servers to maximize your performance output in relation to your server footprint.

When was the last time you looked at your server’s power footprint? Do you even know how much power you’re using? Some of you may have some power meters and can monitor a server (or a few servers) at a time… but how many of you can monitor a rack or servers or a datacenter?

What if this capability was built into your current generation Xeon server platform? The good news is that modern processors DO have power management capabilities. Based on the ACPI specs:

P0 Performance State

While a device or processor is in this state, it uses its maximum performance capability and may consume maximum power. Thereby the processor uses it's maximum power allocation.

P1 Performance State

In this performance power state, the performance capability of a device or processor is limited below its maximum and consumes less than maximum power.

Pn Performance State

In this performance state, the performance capability of a device or processor is at its minimum level and consumes minimal power while remaining in an active state. State n is a maximum number and is processor or device dependent. Processors and devices may define support for an arbitrary number of performance states not to exceed 16.

Each Pn State is a "notch" in the processor's performance powerband (as seen below)

As these performance notches are set, the processor will lower it's power envelope and reduce the power needed in order to save energy. Just as a note, EIST must be enabled in the BIOS for this performance enhancement to work on your platform.

If you attended Intel’s IDF (Intel Developer Forum) you may have run into a few demos in regards to Datacenter Power Management, my booth showcased 4 current generation Intel Servers based on Bensley/Starlake Xeon DP boards and Xeon 54xx Series (codename Harpertown) Processors.

Here’s a quick video showcasing the demo – and just a note - we’ll be redoing this in a higher-quality format soon – so stay tuned!

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Hopefully if you’ve watched the video – you’ve got some questions! The good news is that we have a new website from the Intel Software Network that is focused on Intel® Dynamic Power Datacenter Manager. The site lists the features, system requirements, downloads, and FAQ to get you started!

I’m looking forward to your feedback and questions!