Profiling power consumption
A couple of weeks ago, Intel flew a handful of journalists down to its Hillsboro, Oregon facility for a Clovertown primer. While we were there, we had a chance to play with a quad-socket Tigerton system with a whopping 16 processor cores. We also sat in on a number of presentations detailing different approaches to server and workstation benchmarking, including measuring virtualization performance and profiling real-world power consumption.
Intel has its own internal benchmark team that works to characterize performance and power consumption, and they've developed a new Integrated Measurement Method (IMM) tool that tracks application performance and power consumption in real-time. Power consumption has become an increasingly important performance metric, and since servers in particular are often faced with what Intel calls graduated light loads, testing power consumption at idle and at 100% CPU utilization doesn't tell the whole story.
With its latest version of IMM, Intel has developed an executable that interfaces with ExTech logging power meters to log real-time power consumption data. That data can be combined with Perfmon CPU utilization information and application activity logs that detail real-time performance to track performance and power consumption in a more meaningful way. IMM relies on applications to provide real-time performance logs, so its capabilities are somewhat limited. That hasn't stopped the enthusiast in me from pondering whether IMM can be combined with FRAPS data to track game performance and power consumption over time, though. (Shhh, don't tell the server guys I suggested using their app to track game performance.)
A quick trip to Port Townsend
Although this board doesn't support the Xeon 5300 series chips that are being announced today, Intel couldn't resist showing us a new small form factor server board that supports LGA775 processors, including the Xeon 3000 series and the quad-core Core 2 QX6700. Code-named
Pete Port Townsend, the S3000PT features an Intel 3000 series north bridge and an ICH7R south bridge, one PCI Express x8 slot, four DIMM slots with support for up to 8GB of unbuffered DDR2-533/667 memory with ECC, a pair of Serial ATA ports with RAID 0 and 1 support, and dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers.
The S3000PT squeezes everything onto a custom 5.8" x 13" form factor appropriate for high-density computing nodes, small form factor servers, and even interesting applications within existing chassis. Because the board takes up so little space in a standard rackmount enclosure, it can be combined with a greater number of disk drives and a PCIe RAID controller to form a low-cost storage server. Heck, you can even put a couple of S3000PTs side by side in a 1U rackmount chassis.
Samples of the S3000PT that support Kentsfield processors are currently with Intel's customers, and the board should pick up official support for quad-core chips in January. Pricing is expected to be competitive with Intel's ATX motherboard offerings, and over 15 OEMs have apparently signed on to create products based on the board. Something tells me we'll be seeing more than a couple of "personal clusters" similar to Tyan's Typhoon PSC powered by the S3000PT.
Scott's currently knee-deep in multi-socket systems, so we should have an in-depth review of the performance and power consumption of Intel's Clovertown Xeon 5300 series processors soon. He's cooking up an interesting test suite of server and workstation workloads, and the results should be interesting, to say the least.