Hiking and Low Power Xeon® 5500 Products: How Much Can You Fit in that Backpack (Rack)?

When you’re planning a backpacking trip, whether it’s for several hours or several days, space is at premium.  Not only do you need to think about tents, sleeping bags, clothing, first aid, and navigational gear (among other things), but also how to keep yourself properly hydrated and fueled up.  Oh yeah, you have to figure out how to cram all of this gear into your pack…and carrying an additional pack is not an option!

Odds are you’ll be heading into the wilderness and won’t be able to re-supply for a while, so one of the limiting factors will be the amount of food you can carry.  Running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere makes for a potentially disastrous situation.

So let’s look at the nutritional numbers and how best to fuel the trip:

  • Fats:  ~9 calories per gram, and typically found in nuts and oils
  • Carbohydrates and proteins:  ~4 calories per gram, and typically found in sugars, grains, and meats

If you’re trying to maximize the number of calories you can carry in order to sustain you during your trip, you probably want to pack more foods with a higher fat content (such as peanut butter) than carbs or protein.  More calories per gram à more energy in your pack to get you where you want to go.

You can probably figure out where I’m going with this analogy – low power CPUs are all about helping maximize your performance per rack, just like packing foods with more calories per gram help deliver more energy in a limited amount of backpack space.

Depending on your specific rack power or overall datacenter power / cooling environment, low power SKUs might be a good fit to help maximize your performance per rack.  For the Intel® Xeon® 5500 series, there are two low power CPU options available, both spec’d at a 60W Thermal Design Point (TDP):  Xeon® L5506 (2.13 GHz) and the Xeon® 5520 (2.26 GHz).  These two SKUs have the same features as the corresponding Xeon® E5506 and E5520 SKUs, just lower in power. 

If you’re buying LV Xeon® 5400 CPUs today, such as the L5420, expect a big jump in performance per rack with the Xeon® L55xx SKUs due to lower overall system power and higher performance.  Similar story if you’re evaluating the Xeon® E5506 or E520 SKUs – same performance with L55xx SKUs with lower system power, so higher performance per rack.

Have questions – ask me on this blog or Ask An Expert in the Server Room.