Skate to where the puck is going to be: Energy Efficient Performance

Only a few years ago, customers seldom considered server energy efficiency when buying servers. Today, server energy efficiency is often one of the key purchase criteria. And for some customers, energy efficient performance is the #1 criteria. Going forward in time, it is expected that the majority of people will use energy efficient performance (sometimes referred to as performance/watt) when evaluating servers.

From a customer point of view, the request is simple: "I want both high performance and reduced power consumption…at the same time." From a product design viewpoint, the "opportunity" to reduce power while still improving performance comes with some unique tradeoffs that are often complex. How much performance is needed? How much can/should power consumption be reduced? If power consumption is reduced, what impact will that have on performance? Etc, etc.

Processor design cycles are quite long and are started many years before a product actually comes to market. Because of the long design cycle, there is comprehensive process at the beginning to determine product features based on expected market needs. At the time the Nehalem architecture was being developed, customers were just starting to evaluate servers based energy efficient performance, but the Nehalem processor design team decided to make energy efficiency a fundamental "feature" of the processor. The good news is the team correctly predicted the market requirements with the upcoming Intel® Xeon® 5500 Processors (aka. Nehalem). Servers based on Nehalem processors are expected to provide customers with exactly what they have been requesting…"knock your socks off" performance along with reduced power consumption.

As Wayne Gretzky once famously said: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” With Nehalem, Intel is definitely skating to where the puck will be.