Enthusiasm never stops

Power consumption of a server with an Intel E3-1200 Series CPU


I got my hands on the following server for a day, so I decided to measure its power consumption because the new Intel Xeon Processor E3 series look very promising. They support ECC memory and at the same time have “Intelligent, Adaptive Performance”, which in plain text means that they can power themselves down and thus save energy. Furthermore, their price and the price of the motherboards are fair as these CPUs seem to be meant to be used mainly in Desktop workstations. Having ECC support lets us use them in servers too. The only caveat is that those Sandy Bridge based Xeon CPUs support only single CPU configuration — so don’t try to find a dual-CPU motherboard.

Here is the server configuration:

BIOS settings are set up for optimal power savings without compromising performance. FAN control is enabled too. Room temperature is 21 degrees Celsius.

Power usage with different server utilization scenarios follows:

  • 7W — power off; idle consumation, the IPMI is alive
  • 39W — power on; Linux OS is idle
    • IPMI sensor readings: cooling FAN works with 1755 RPM — relatively quiet; CPU temperature is Low
  • 45W to 60W — power on; moderate Linux OS usage
    • load average: 1.53; installing 200 new packets via “apt-get”
    • IPMI sensor readings: cooling FAN works with 1755 RPM — relatively quiet; CPU temperature is Low
  • 130W — power on; full stress by “stress –cpu 16 –io 8 –vm 8 –vm-bytes 1780M –hdd 4″
    • load average: 36.00; I/O load: 100%, mostly write; CPUs busy @ 100%, 70% user, 30% system, all CPU cores are utilized
    • RAM: about 95% used, 30% cached; network load: 22 Mbit/s constant SSH transfer
    • IPMI sensor readings: cooling FAN works with 3100 RPM — much noisy; CPU temperature is Medium

Author: Ivan Zahariev

An experienced Linux & IT enthusiast, Engineer by heart, Systems architect & developer.

3 thoughts on “Power consumption of a server with an Intel E3-1200 Series CPU

  1. Those numbers looks very promising. Might get one for a home server. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I am a bit curious on “Intelligent, Adaptive Performance”. As i understand it, it is built into the cpu. Does in need any configuring in the OS itself? Previously one would use speedstep, cpufreq etc to achieve this. Is it correct that this is no longer needed?

    Best Regards

    • I didn’t tweak the OS in any way — it was an up-to-date Debian or Ubuntu installation (I don’t remember exactly which of the two). Therefore, it is either directly supported in the BIOS, and/or the modern Debian/Ubuntu distributions handle this out of the box. I tend to believe that this is a built-in hardware feature of the Intel Xeon E3 processors.

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