[Beowulf] power usage, Intel 5160 vs. AMD 2216

Bruce Allen ballen at gravity.phys.uwm.edu
Thu Jul 12 15:15:44 PDT 2007

Thanks Mike!

To undertand power use in the past I have found it very helpful to look at 
OEM motherboard manuals.  For example the Intel OEM motherboard manuals 
typically include a table listing expected power consumption for a system 
built around the motherboard. The table includes standby, normal and peak 
power use for all the major components: cpu, memory, disk, chipset, 
networking, etc.  It's helpful to get a quick overview and to develop a 
feel for where the power is going.

It's my experience that when building large clusters, issues of space, 
power and cooling are often harder and more time-consuming to resolve than 
actually getting the cluster itself purchased, commissioned, and 
operating.  For example I've recently taken up a new position in Hannover 
Germany where as part of my start-up package the MPG is building a cluster 
room (450 square meters floor space, 500kW cooling, 800kW UPS, with the 
option to double cooling/power in four years).  The design of the room 
began in September 2005 and construction is now underway; the room is 
scheduled for completion at the end of this year. So total design and 
construction time is 2.3 years. In contrast, I am just now starting some 
serious benchmarking for the cluster itself, which will probably arrive 
early next year. Total design and construction time will be about 0.5 
years.  The cost of the cluster room is about equal to the cost of the 
initial cluster that will go into it.  But the ratio of time to completion 
(and design time) is more than 4 to 1.


On Thu, 12 Jul 2007, Mike Davis wrote:

> That's excellent information. I was surpised by how close to the documented 
> power use my number were. Knowing that even high disk use adds little power 
> usage is important to though of us fighting the power/cooling wars.
> Mike

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