Saturday, September 08, 2007

Power-efficient CPU a non-issue ?

I find it interesting nowadays that CPU builders, and Intel in particular keep bragging about their power-efficient CPUs. It's like, this is getting more important than speed or number of cores.

My point is: who cares about that ? I want my CPU to be fast first, eventually have multiple cores and some fast way to talk with my memory. It would be nice to also consume little power, but that's a nice touch so to speak.

I assume 90% of the CPU buyers don't have server farms to worry about their electrical bill so why induce this trend ?

I think the solutions is clear: Intel / AMD cannot increase speed easily anymore. Therefore they are convincing consumers that this is what's important about a CPU: power consumption. The result: you see all kinds of uninformed users wondering how much the CPU consumes as if they would see the difference.

I don't want my CPU to consume less than my graphics card or my hard-drive. I'm buying it to work so I expect it to take some power. I would gladly take the power-hungry fast CPU than the low-consuming slow CPU.

As far as I know the operating system or any other software in this world isn't influenced by how much power the CPU takes, but it sure matters if the CPU is faster or has more cores (or some multi-threading per CPU).

So, congratulations to the marketing departments of Intel for convincing people that it's not speed or threads that matter (you know, the stuff people need) but power consumption.

Probably the PC already consumes less than my fridge, old TV or hair drier, but God-forbid it consumes more and gains some speed. No way, we have to be power efficient :-)


Casper Bang said...

Power consumption is important for a variety of reasons. I used to have 386, 486 and Pentium's who just needed a small cooling plate and a 200W power supply.

Over the last 10 years manufacturers have been auto-overclocking from the factory so now you pretty much need 400-600W power supply and even more if you plan on playing games. The end result is that it cost more (you're from Europe, you know how much we pay for electricity around here), it pollutes more, it creates more heat, it makes more noise, it takes more physical space and it puts more stress on the components thus shortening the life time of these.

You may not care about this, but when you factor in how many million of computers are used around the world or how terrible it can be to sit in a warm computer lab filled with 50 loud machines, trust me, it does matter. I think you know this, not sure why your post is so one-sided.

Emilian Bold said...

Casper, you are right, saving power is a nice goal both financially and for other reasons: ecological, etc.

My post was one-sided for the same reason the CPU makers are one-sided. Nowadays, with this ECO-trend, they focus only on the power-consumption. And this one-track-mind has been with Intel for ages: first it was the Mhz/Ghz war now we have the power-consumption war.

Obviously they are just picking what they are good / competitive at and push it on people's throat like the feature that is going to save the world.

Saving some power on 100 machines is all nice. But as, I've said, when my CPU consumes less power then my hard-drive or GPU it means we have a problem. The problem is that the CPU manufacturers are hiding their inability to produce faster CPUs behind the "we are working on energy efficiency"-mantra.

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