Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

To Contain Power Costs, Look at Your Servers

Server power consumption has taken to center stage in the IT theater, writes Winston Saunders of Intel. At Intel, there's been a laser focus on server power consumption for many years now, and the new Intel Xeon processor E5 family continues this focus.

3 Min Read
Data Center Knowledge logo

Winston Saunders has worked at Intel for nearly two decades in both manufacturing and product roles. He has worked in his current role leading server and data center efficiency initiatives since 2006. Winston is a graduate of UC Berkeley and the University of Washington. You can find him online at “Winston on Energy” on Twitter.

Winston Saunders



As data centers have grown over the years, server power consumption has taken to center stage in the IT theater. Electricity to power servers is now the biggest operational cost in the data center, and one of the biggest headaches for budget managers.

Addressing Power Hungry Servers

So how do you contain server power consumption? I suggest you begin by looking first at inefficient servers—the elephant in your data center. Old and inefficient servers not only consume more power than newer servers, but they do less work. That means you’re paying more to get less.

At Intel, we’ve had a laser focus on this issue for many years now, and the new Intel Xeon processor E5 family continues this focus. It addresses the efficiency problem on two key fronts: processor performance and power management.

Changing Architecture to Impact Energy Use

To increase server performance, the Intel architecture builds hyperthreading technology into the processor. In simple terms, hyperthreading overlays instruction paths to double the number of processor cores and deliver a lot more throughput for the same amount of energy.

For further gains in power efficiency, the processor includes a turbo feature that allows energy to be focused where it is most needed. If a job running on one core needs more power, it can make use of the extra power headroom available on other cores to accelerate processing.

Power Management Baked In

Other automated power management features in the new processor family include Intel Power Tuning Technology and Intel Intelligent Power Technology. Power Tuning uses on-board sensors and to give you greater control over power and thermal levels across the system. Intelligent Power Technology automatically regulates power consumption.

With capabilities like these, the newest Intel Xeon processor products families deliver up to 70 percent more performance per watt than previous generations.i, ii These gains help you flip the inefficiency ratio that comes with older servers. Rather than paying more to get less, you pay less to get more.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.


[i] Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations, and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause the results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including the performance of that product when combined with other products.

[ii] Source: Performance comparison using SPECfp*_rate_base2006 benchmark result at the same TDP. Baseline score of 271 on prior generation 2S Intel Xeon processor X5690 based on best publication to using Intel Compiler 12.1 as of 17 January 2012. For details, please see:  New score of 466 based on Intel internal measured estimates using an Intel Canoe Pass platform with two Intel Xeon processor E5-2680, Turbo Enabled, EIST Enabled, Hyper-Threading Enabled, 64 GB RAM, Intel Compiler 12.1, THP disabled, Red Hat* Enterprise Linux Server 6.1.

Subscribe to the Data Center Knowledge Newsletter
Get analysis and expert insight on the latest in data center business and technology delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like