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Looking for low power server CPU

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January 4, 2013 5:19:08 PM

I need to buy a CPU and mother board. I want to build a very energy efficient server.
Total power used is an important criteria as this is going into a server that will run 24x7.

I have done experiments and have a few data points.
1) A Core 2 quad at 2.4GHz (Q6600) is more than powerful enough for this application, in fact it is over kill. but the TPU is about 100W and it does not seem to be good as power saving modes. 100W is unacceptable. I've measued the power it uses and can't get it to go below 95W.
2) An Atom D525 at 1.8 GHz was fast enough but it is limited to only 4GB of RAM and my application needs at least 8GB to run well and could use 16GB. So Atom is not going to work.

The best I've found (but not tested) is an Intel Core i3-2100T 2.5GHz. Intel claims a TPU of 35W which is 1/3rd the Q6600 but more then double the Atom's TPU. 35W would be Ok if idle mode were much less then 35W.

Of course, what I want is a 2GHz dual core Atom with a TPU of 4W that accepts 16GB of RAM. I doubt such a thing exists but maybe someone here knows of "the next best" CPU"

This is for a server that will connect to the network with a 1000BaseT network connection (gigabit Ethernet) and once it can "flood" the ethernet port by writing at "wire speed" there is no need to go faster. But I do need more RAM than 4GB.

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January 4, 2013 5:31:37 PM

You are on the right track. I can only recommend based on price, and case cooling for 24/7 operation. The "t" costs more; the regular 21xx series is what I use; I believe the TPU for the cpu only drops to around 15 watts at idle with energy saving mode enabled in the bios.
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January 4, 2013 6:22:51 PM

Hi :) 

If this is going to be working 24/7, WHY are you even thinking about power saving modes as it will NEVER use them ?

All the best Brett :) 
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January 4, 2013 6:34:30 PM

Brett928S2 said:
Hi :) 

If this is going to be working 24/7, WHY are you even thinking about power saving modes as it will NEVER use them ?

All the best Brett :) 



The server will be used to run backups and some user data. When no data are being transferred the system has nothing to do and can shut down. on my test servers, I looked plots of CPU utilization over a period and found it occurs it short bursts and then goes to nearly zero.

The power saving modes could run most of the time. Normal notebook computers do this, they run their clocks faster and "wake up" more cores when there is work to be done, this changes second by second.
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January 4, 2013 6:36:45 PM

CAlbertson said:
The server will be used to run backups and some user data. When no data are being transferred the system has nothing to do and can shut down. on my test servers, I looked plots of CPU utilization over a period and found it occurs it short bursts and then goes to nearly zero.

The power saving modes could run most of the time. Normal notebook computers do this, they run their clocks faster and "wake up" more cores when there is work to be done, this changes second by second.



Hi :) 

Yes , but you cannot work out your power costs on power saving lol...you do it on full power...

All the best Brett :) 
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January 4, 2013 6:43:52 PM

o1die said:
You are on the right track. I can only recommend based on price, and case cooling for 24/7 operation. The "t" costs more; the regular 21xx series is what I use;...


Have you measured AC power using a watt meter?

Yes you are right, look at the cost. I see each 10W as costing $17.28 per year. So 100W costs $860 over the five year life of the system. I look at total lifetime cost and when you do that you see the power can cost far more than the CPU in some cases.
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January 4, 2013 6:47:44 PM

I looked on Newegg and it appears that you could go with pentium-g630t or a i3-2120t. They both have a 35W TDP and are over 2GHz as well as being able to support 32gb of RAM. They Cost $80 and $135 respectively
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January 4, 2013 6:50:58 PM

Brett928S2 said:
Hi :) 

Yes , but you cannot work out your power costs on power saving lol...you do it on full power...


No, the cost that you are billed for is the area under the plot of usage vs. time. Or "power use integrated over time". Or maybe simpler to say as "average power". You are not billed for peak power usage. What I'm looking to do is reduce the power when averaged over a 24 hour period.

What I've been seeing is that the Q6600 CPU has an average that is VERY close to it's peak. It pulls a steady 100W. Other processors I've looked at do not pull such a constant load and there fore have a lower average.

None of this matters much for one computer that is on only a few hours a day but a few servers can burn $10,000 of power over their lifetime. So there is some potential for savings
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January 10, 2013 3:16:40 PM

Best answer selected by CAlbertson.
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January 10, 2013 7:07:12 PM

I know you set this as "solved", but you may want to look into an AMD Fusion processor. I use the Atom D525 for a home file server and it works great, so an AMD E-350 should also work. The processors are basically on par with each other, but the AMD chip supposedly supports 16GB of RAM, and uses a tiny bit more power.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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