January 14, 2008 - Even though some Intel Quad-Core processors are faster than AMD's, similarly configured Quad-Core Opteron based servers consumed up to 41 percent less power, according to tests by Neal Nelson. However, the Intel processor itself is not necessarily guilty. It's the Fully Buffered memory modules (FB-DIMM) that consume more power than the DDR2 modules used by the AMD based servers.
According to Neal Nelson, his tests of servers using Intel and AMD Quad-Core processors showed that the Intel based servers delivered slightly better maximum throughput and the Opteron based servers were substantially more power efficient.
The power consumption at idle is particularly significant, since studies have shown that many servers are powered on, but idle, 80 percent of the time.
There is a consensus in the industry that a substantial amount of a Xeon server's power usage can be traced to Intel's use of Fully Buffered memory modules. The expectation is that for systems with a larger number of DIMMs, AMD based servers will have a significant power consumption advantage. For systems with a smaller number of DIMMs, the power consumption advantage might shift to Intel.
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