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New media renders traditional server design benchmarks obsolete

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:server design? microprocessor? benchmarks?

Server design - and by extension microprocessor and component considerations - are now driven by new-media companies such as Facebook and Google, whose system specifications render traditional benchmarks useless.

That was the word from panelists at ARM TechCon here exploring the future of big computing and its impact on semiconductor design.

"J.P. Morgan is one of the largest consumers of compute on earth," said Andrew Feldman, CEO of AMD acquisition Seamicro and now head of AMD's Data Centre Server Solutions. "They're one of the top 10 buyers of CPUs. They're a 130 year-old company."

"In Facebook's fifth year they bought the same amount of computein their fifth year," he added. "It's at that type of company where the battle is going to rage. That's where price-per-unit-compute, compute-per-watt will move to the fore. Those are the dimensions the battle will take place on. And they'll take place...not over abstract benchmarks, but the exact work that these companies have and need."

The panel took place against the backdrop of AMD allying with ARM to drive into the server market in the coming years, where power consumption has become an enormous issues in massive server farms that drive digital commerce. There, the question arose as to what the role of traditional benchmarks is in a world where power consumption can make or break a deal.

"Traditional benchmarks are about defining headroom and performance per dollar," said Karl Freund, vice president of marketing with ARM-based server company Calxeda. "In the new world, it's not performance per dollar; it's supporting number of users at a given service level at the least capital and operationg expense. In that type of world, there's a smaller role for benchmarks."

Manufacturing profit

"Traditional enterprise guys are not going to look at ARM first,"�Feldman said. "The people who will use ARM first...almost every one of them uses computer to manufacture profit. If you use compute to manufacture profit, you are always and every day interested in how you can improve the efficiency of your ability to manufacture profit. That class of customers will move first. Customers who use compute to do IT will move last. If you look at those two markets, those who use compute to generate profit are growing many hundreds of times faster than the other segments of the market."

- Brian Fuller
??EE Times

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