SAN JOSE, Calif. Computer makers are testing a new benchmark that could be released as early as June for measuring the energy use of servers. The Transaction Processing Performance Council's energy specification will be an add-on to the group's existing benchmarks.
The TPC's tests come just days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its first specifications for measuring the energy efficiency of servers. The efforts are part of a broad initiative to find ways to lower power consumption, a chief contributor to the costs and growth limitations of today's data centers.
The TPC's Energy Specification could go to formal public review following the group's June 8 meeting. "There could be delays if someone finds a glitch, but I believe we'll have it out this year along with actual test results based on the benchmark," said Mike Nikolaiev, chairman of the TPC Energy Specification committee.
"We are in an informal review with TPC members running the code which takes instrumentation from multiple power and temperature meters so we can report actual power consumed while a system is running a workload," said Nikolaiev who also manages a systems performance group at Hewlett Packard.
The TPC's energy spec aims to help end users identify how to save money while reducing energy consumption on large transaction processing and database systems. The group will provide for free on its Web site software to run the new benchmark that has been in the works since December 2007.
The code will provide services such as power instrumentation interfacing, power and temperature logging and report generation. It builds on code for power benchmarks licensed from Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. (SPEC), an industry group that publishes its own set of basic performance benchmarks.
Computer makers have developed the SPEC and TPC energy metrics in parallel with their work with the EPA on the first Energy Star ratings for servers. "Our companies are involved with Energy Star effort for servers, and we'd love the EPA to take a look at what we are doing," said Nikolaiev.
The initial EPA spec for servers published May 15 lays out four requirements for getting an Energy Star logo. Computer makers must publish some form of performance per Watt measurements on their systems, use power supplies that conform to set efficiency metrics, meet requirements for idle power and ship systems with a set of power management features enabled.
"It's a strong first step, but there's much more to do," said Karl Huppler, chairman of the TPC and a manager in an IBM group that builds systems based on its Power microprocessors. "The EPA acknowledged they don't account for the capacity of a system, so this effectively puts a two-seat sports car in same category as a bus," he said.
Servers are by far the most complex and diverse systems the EPA has tackled with its Energy Star program. The next phase of the work looks to be even tougher.
"The second phase is where we want to say for a given normal workload take a measurement at 100 percent load and one at idle and report both numbers," said Nikolaiev. "There's a lot of debate over what the typical workload should be, and the number of processor cores keeps increasing so we need to think about how we exercise all the cores," he added.