AMD is adding power management capabilities to the Opteron processor line in an effort to help keep servers cooler and let users conserve energy.
The company's PowerNow technology, initially offered for notebook PCs, has been upgraded to PowerNow with Optimized Power Management for enterprise I.T. and workstation customers. Power consumption in the data center is controlled by changing power states based on server workload, reducing operational costs.
Keep It Cool
PowerNow, introduced four years ago and adopted by AMD's notebook customers, will be available for Opteron 32- and 64-bit x86 processor systems in the first half of next year, the company said.
Beyond improved power-management capabilities, the technology offers I.T. investment protection by placing less strain on data center cooling and ventilation systems, according to AMD.
"Power management capabilities, developed by AMD and other chip makers for notebooks, are gaining more attention at the server level," Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff told NewsFactor.
"As the number of systems in a data center increases, the I.T. folks at enterprises are looking at power management as a whole rather than for each component," he explained.
A First Step
Advances in this area typically take place incrementally, Haff said, with chip makers, such as AMD and Intel, currently focused on controlling power at the processor level. IBM (NYSE: IBM - news) has launched new power-management technology for the Power5 product line that goes a step further by shutting down specific parts of the processor, he added.
Over time, we will see even-more-sophisticated techniques for server power management than those designed for notebook machines, said Haff, pointing out that the use characteristics of servers are different from those of laptops.
"Desktop hardware is more often not in use, so the focus is on reducing power during inactivity. Servers, on the other hand, are on most of the time, but operate at different performance levels and workloads," he said.
A major challenge with multi-rack server systems is that the smaller machines are producing the same amount of heat as larger components, said Pat Patla, director of server workstation marketing at AMD.
"We have optimized the power utility in the data center that may use multiprocessors but still requires a certain level of performance," he told NewsFactor.
AMD's offering can conduct time-based power management, or it can operate at the application or OS level, said Patla, with the ability to define the power thresholds for each server system component. It also runs on both Microsoft and Linux machines.
In addition to new products expected from AMD customers, all Opteron servers delivered since May are compatible with the power-management feature.