Incomplete Analysis

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2005-08-25 Print this article Print

?"> Intel, for its part, viewed the AMD analysis as incomplete. An Intel spokesman said that AMDs analysis is a worst-case scenario focusing on maximum power consumption, a state that servers—neither based on Intel chips, nor AMD chips—operate in all the time.
"Every single server workload differs," said Bill Kircos, an Intel spokesman.
Meanwhile, servers processors arent the only parts that consume power. Aside from their chip sets, their fans, power supplies and add-in cards all use electricity as well. "Each company will talk to you about its maximum wattage," Kircos said. However, "Its rare that things stay that high all the time." Analysts agreed that AMDs current technology is generally more energy-efficient than Intels existing Xeons. AMD is likely to continue to enjoy an advantage when the dual-core Paxville Xeon DP and MP chips arrive later this year. However, while that analysis "works today, tomorrow, theyre going to have an issue," said Roger Kay, president of End Point Technologies Associates Inc. Kay was referencing Intels plans to introduce lower power server chips in 2006. Intel on Tuesday said it would build more energy-efficient, dual-core chips called Conroe, Merom and Woodcrest for desktops, notebooks and servers, respectively, and roll them out in 2006. Click here to read more about Intels plans to aim for greater efficiency. The chips will be based on new processor architecture that will help them cut their power consumption by as much as 30 watts. That means power consumption on its server chips could drop to around 80 watts, Intel said, a figure that would best the current Opteron. However, the new Intel chips will not integrate a memory controller, meaning that AMD will continue to gain some power advantage from having built in that part. Although AMD and now Intel have begun paying attention to server power consumption, an analyst reprimanded both companies for not working to curb their chips hunger sooner. Instead of focusing on power, they sought to improve speed at the expense of higher power consumption, said Jim McGregor, editor of the Microprocessor Report. "Both companies are way behind in getting to a low power [architecture], because they were so focused on performance and continuing Moores Law" the tenant that processors transistor counts will double, increasing performance, every two years, McGregor said. Thus "2007 is going to be interesting. Both companies are working on machine changes to their architecture." Indeed, "The big point here is that its a good thing if our competitor and the industry are all on the same page and looking at energy efficiency," Kircos said. Analysts believe that Intel will begin integrating a memory controller into its server chips starting in 2007, when it rolls out Whitefield, a quad-core successor to Woodcrest, the dual-core chip due in the second half of 2006. McGregor said he believes AMD is also working on a low-power processor architecture. AMD has been mum on its architectural plans. Its next step is to update the Opteron memory controller to support the DDR-2 specification for faster memory and to add virtualization and security technologies to the chip. It will roll all of those out in the first half of 2006, Kirby said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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