AMD power usage trumps Intel -- but does anyone care?

Summary:I absolutely agree with David Berlind regarding the importance of low-power servers. [How a chill-pill for your server room improves your bottom line] What I don't understand, however, (and haven't for quite a long time) is why the power consumption issue is getting attention now that Intel is talking about its next-gen low-power offerings.

I absolutely agree with David Berlind regarding the importance of low-power servers. [How a chill-pill for your server room improves your bottom line] What I don't understand, however, (and haven't for quite a long time) is why the power consumption issue is getting attention now that Intel is talking about its next-gen low-power offerings.

Check the actual CPU power consumption figures at Lost Circuits (measured directly off the CPU) or system-level consumption numbers from Tech Report and we see the same trend.

Intel Xeon, Pentium 4, and Pentium D cores consume far more power at idle (if C&Q is enabled on AMD) and at load, regardless, than their 90nm AMD counterparts. In fact, if you look back at older reviews, Opteron has been generally lauded as a much cooler, quieter CPU than its Nocona/Irwindale counterpart.

Opteron 252s have been available for over six months; low power and ultra-low-power versions of Opteron have been available even longer, and the advent of AMD's dual core demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt whose got the lower-power chip—the Opteron 152 system draws 201W at full load, as compared to the 840 at 292W. Michael Schuette's direct-CPU measurements at Lost Circuits show Toledo 4800+ drawing 80W at full load, versus 136W on 840.

Don't get me wrong; I realize 80W still doesn't compare to the 32W limit on some of Intel's upcoming server products--but the point is, AMD processors have been pounding Intel chips in terms of power usage for the last 12 months...and no one seems to have given a damn. My point isn't just that you haven't mentioned it here before, but that no one seems to have made mention of it, period.

Coincidence? Luck? Conspiracy theory? I don't know. But having worked with Nocona and high-end Prescott, and seen how dramatically better Opteron and Athlon 64 are in terms of power draw, I do think the press and industry (in general) should have been more cognizant of AMD's benefits in this area.

Joel Hruska is an IT writer in Louisville, Kentucky.

Topics: Processors

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