Intel Node Manager on the Intel Xeon Processor E5 Family Server

Intel® Node Manager was initially launched with the Intel® 5500 and 5520 Chipsets and has evolved with the Intel® Xeon® processor E5 family to bring fine-grained monitoring capability and efficiency to the modern data center manager.  With the next generation of technology found in the Intel Xeon processor E5 family comes highly efficient energy management which is already built into the CPU, chipset, and other components in the server platform.  Processor efficiency, as well as integrated technologies on the server platform, bring new methods to monitor and manage power more efficiently in the data center.

The first release of Intel Node Manager provided power monitoring and control at the system (chassis) level.  The power was controlled via Performance (P) and Throttle (T) states in the CPU.  This gave customers the ability to monitor and dial-in specific power consumption via Intel Node Manager to limit the CPU P-states, which helped meet power requirements.


Figure 1: Intel® Node Manger version 1.5 (for Intel® Xeon® processor 5500/5600)

In this 2nd generation of Intel Node Manager - part of the Intel Xeon processor E5 family - the platform provides more granular levels of monitoring and control of the overall system power using various sensors on the platform. Intel Node Manager controls power utilizing not only the CPU states, but also Running Average Power Limiting (RAPL) to control memory in unison with the processor changes.


Figure 2: Intel® Node Manager 2.0 (for Intel® Xeon® processor E5)

Here’s what’s new for Intel® Node Manager in 2012:

Power & Thermal Monitoring – Intel Node Manager periodically queries the Power Supply Unit (PSU), Hot Swap Controller (HSC), or an external Baseboard Management Controller (BMC), CPU and memory about power consumption. It can also query about inlet temperature. Based on this data, Intel Node Manager calculates various statistics. Intel Node Manager can simultaneously monitor total system power, CPU power, and memory power.

Platform Level Power Monitoring - monitoring and statistics (min, max, avg) of the total board power. Intel Node Manager reads this either directly from PSU or HSC using the PMBus protocol (PMBus v1.2 preferred) or from an external BMC using IPMI.

  • Processor subsystem power monitoring - monitoring and statistics (min, max, avg) of the processor subsystem power
  • Processor power limiting - ability to enforce a policy to limit the power consumption of the processor package (socket) subsystem
  • Memory subsystem power monitoring - monitoring and statistics (min, max, avg) on the memory subsystem power
  • Memory power limiting - ability to enforce a policy to limit the power consumption of the memory subsystem
  • Inlet air temperature monitoring - monitoring and statistics (min, max, avg) of the inlet air temperature

Simple and Multi-Policy Power Limiting - an external BMC is able to set a single power limit, or a set of power limiting policies, to be enforced by the Intel Node Manager firmware. Up to 16 active policies can be maintained on the server at any time.  The firmware measures power consumption and implements the Get Node Manager Statistics IPMI command used by BMC to read the power consumption.

Dynamic Core Allocation (also known as core idling) – Intel Node Manager can disable one or more CPU cores in runtime, based on policy power limiting requirements. (Note: This feature is dependent on the software support on the host – available only on platforms running an OS that supports core idling such as Windows Server* 8 BETA.)

Keep watching the Intel website and these communities for vendors providing Intel Xeon processor E5 family based servers with Intel Node Manager technology.