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Power consumption v. speed RRS feed

  • Question

  • It seems to me that there is not enough info on these forums on just how much horsepower you need to accomplish certain tasks. Since computing power is somewhat related to electrical power consumption, it would be nice to know how much computing power is really needed so that electrical power isn't wasted. I remember a few years ago reading on my ISP's website and they were bragging about their servers having dual 450 MHz PII's in them. I'm sure those servers were a lot busier than the whs's people are using at home but are likely not nearly as powerful, so what's the deal?

    I used what I had available for my server, an old white-box with a 500MHz PIII, 512 MB ram, with the hard drives connected to the mobo's Ultra 33 IDE ports. Surprisingly, it streamed five movies at once with no problems. I ran out of machines to play the movies on or I'd have tried for more. I've added two more drives and a controller card since I took power measurements, but with three drives, no video card, optical or floppy drives, it used 41 watts at idle and about 59 when active. BTW, I used a Kill-a-Watt meter to do my measurements - about $20 at newegg.

    So, if you're interested in saving power and you've built a server with that in mind, would you mind posting your setup, power consumption, and if you've ever hit a limit where your server couldn't perform a task (like running Sage TV, etc.) because it didn't have enough horsepower under the hood? We might get a better idea of where the point of diminishing returns lies.
    Saturday, April 19, 2008 5:40 PM

All replies

  • I might be able to shed some light...

     

     Sirreel wrote:
    It seems to me that there is not enough info on these forums on just how much horsepower you need to accomplish certain tasks. Since computing power is somewhat related to electrical power consumption, it would be nice to know how much computing power is really needed so that electrical power isn't wasted. I remember a few years ago reading on my ISP's website and they were bragging about their servers having dual 450 MHz PII's in them. I'm sure those servers were a lot busier than the whs's people are using at home but are likely not nearly as powerful, so what's the deal?

    Well ISPs don't have a lot of processing required, serving up web pages and issuing IP Addresses isn't very processor intensive as compared to 3D Gaming for example. Not to mention they were probably running Linux or some UNIX flavor to maximize efficiency in that dept.


    I used what I had available for my server, an old white-box with a 500MHz PIII, 512 MB ram, with the hard drives connected to the mobo's Ultra 33 IDE ports. Surprisingly, it streamed five movies at once with no problems. I ran out of machines to play the movies on or I'd have tried for more. I've added two more drives and a controller card since I took power measurements, but with three drives, no video card, optical or floppy drives, it used 41 watts at idle and about 59 when active. BTW, I used a Kill-a-Watt meter to do my measurements - about $20 at newegg.

     

    You just answered your own question. Right? High horsepower CPUs aren't going to make a lot of difference unless you have your server doing processor intensive tasks like transcoding even if you have the maximum 10 clients accessing the server.

    So, if you're interested in saving power and you've built a server with that in mind, would you mind posting your setup, power consumption, and if you've ever hit a limit where your server couldn't perform a task (like running Sage TV, etc.) because it didn't have enough horsepower under the hood? We might get a better idea of where the point of diminishing returns lies.

     

    When I build my OWN server, it'll probably be from parts that other folks consider to be 'junk'.. such as an older Pentium 4/Celeron or perhaps even a high speed P3. Load that up with a 4port SATA card and gigabit NIC, I think it'll do just fine without sucking up a lot of electricity.

     

    Monday, April 21, 2008 5:05 PM
  • My WHS machine is a P3 1GHZ with 512mb RAM. It has 2TB of storage (4x500 drives) and I have no issues at all with performance (multiple HD video streams etc). The server uses around 75W when all drives are being used but averages 45W-50W.

    From my perfmon stats I use an average of 40% cpu (this rises to 70% when I download torrents) but it never really peaks at over 90%. I am certain an old P3 would be make a fantastic WHS machine for you as they use next to no electricity.

    For reference I used the machine before as a general downlaod machine with 1 HDD in it as it used to comsume 30-35W (at idle less than 25W).
    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 2:18 PM
  • I agree, some of the 'older' processors, while not designed as low power parts, nevertheless provide more than enough horsepower for running WHS. The only caveat would be if you intended to rip and transcode multiple files at the same time as you are streaming.

     

    Colin

     

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 5:12 PM
  •  

    I'm very interested in the topic lately.  My current WHS is pretty hefty actually (P4 3.2GHz 2Gb RAM).  However, I really would like to go with something more efficient.  I've been eyeing an Intel 945GCLF board, which is based on the new Atom 45nm proc at 1.6GHz.  It is claimed to run at about 4w.  That is way better than my current system which I believe is about 100w.  Of course my current system includes the drives and the 945 would only have one internal drive.  All other drives would be eSATA.  Another concern I have with the lower power system is that I have a few add-ins and plans for a few more. 

     

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 6:06 PM
  • mfmjos,

     

    I believe Tranquil PC are using the Atom in their fanless servers, so it's certainly possible. However, there is a write-up on The Register which isn't quite so glowing, but an interesting read nonetheless.

     

    Colin

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 6:31 PM
  •  

    What I used to have

    Athlon XP 2100+ (60+ watts)

    1.5GB Ram

    10 x 3.5" HDD - 8 connected to PCI raid card in JBOD (4.6TB)

    520w 80+ PSU

    Power usage (via APC software) 180-210 watts

     

    What I have now.

    Quad core Q6600 (95 watts max)

    4GB Ram

    10 x 3.5" HDD - 4 connected to PCI RAID card in JBOD (4.6TB)

    520w 80+ PSU

    Power usage (via APC software) 130-150 watts normal usage. Peaks at 190 watts with 100% CPU.

     

    Let me just say, old is OK. but I am running WHS with 3 Virtual machines for testing and study. Windows 2008 server, Windows Vista Business, and Windows XP Pro. The VM's start automatically and I remote desktop onto them when needed. So in effect I am running 4 machines in one.

     

    I also used to have an Athlon XP 3200+ for other OSes but no need for that anymore. so my power usage has reduced by close to 400 watts with the server running 24/7.

     

    Cheers

    DB

     

     

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 11:15 PM
  •  mfmjos wrote:

     

     However, I really would like to go with something more efficient.  I've been eyeing an Intel 945GCLF board, which is based on the new Atom 45nm proc at 1.6GHz.  It is claimed to run at about 4w.

     

    The mobo itself uses close to 40W due to an older chipset.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 5:47 AM
  • Are you sure the chipset would use that amount of power? My P3 Intel 810e chipset when running with CPU and Ram only uses about 25W - take off a few watts for the RAM and about 15W for the CPU (no speedstep on P3's) leaves about 8W or so.

     

     

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 8:57 AM
  • After looking a bit deeper, we discovered the 945GC used here is rated to consume as much as 22w!

    http://upgraderguides.com/index.php?type=5&id=77&page=8

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:01 AM
  • I have the board you are thinking about trying. I have it set up for the PP1 test, which whs and PP1 installed with no issues at all.

    As far as the power consumption, it's only the CPU that uses 4w, that chipset uses ~22w. You can only connect 2 - sata and 2 - pata drives, unless you install a controller card in the PCI slot. Other wise is a small quite setup.

    Vince
    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:37 AM
  •  

    ColinWH - Thanks for the link to the Register article.  I missed that one.  They make good points but their intent is as a desktop system tested playing movies.  Which is completely valid, just not my plan for that board.

     

    rev3nant & VSawler - You both are correct, I guess I got so excited seeing the 4w bit that I glossed over the total usage for the board.  But even 40w is much better than the ~100w that I'm using now.

     

    The size is another advantage.  I found a nice wall mount case that it will fit in and I planned to use the two SATA ports as eSATA and add a controller card for capacity for 4 - 8 more drives.  I'm very pleased to hear that you've run it successfully.  How much RAM did you go with, and are you running amy add-ins?  Have you plugged it into a kill-a-watt to see that actual power consumption?

     

    mfm

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:55 AM
  • Wow Im shocked 22W for a 'low power' chipset. Kind of makes the idea of using an Atom chip a bit pointless?

     

     

    I just did some tests on my server - I have 4 drives connected (2xPATA, 2xSATA), a pci gig ethernet card, a pci usb2 card, a dvd rom drive and the boardsitself (intel 810e chipset with onbaord video, 2x256MB SDRAM sticks and a 1GHZ P3 processor). All drives were spinning and I have the following power consumption:

     

    6% cpu activity (performing a client backup) - 63W

    76% cpu activity (adding a new share and writing data) - 79W

     

    Average for the server is ually <60W (when asome drives are spun down doing nothing)

     

     

     

    Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:57 PM
  • I went with 2GB, the max as there was onlt $10.00 difference. I  just put it together to test PP!.

    I've been looking for a watt meter, but haven't seen them around in Nova Scotia.

    Vince
    Thursday, June 26, 2008 11:06 PM