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IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, XebiaLabs Blog, Pat Romanski

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SPEC Releases Server Efficiency Rating Tool (SERT)

The Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. (SPEC) has released the Server Efficiency Rating Tool (SERT), designed to help computer manufacturers develop more energy-efficient products and enable datacenters to reduce energy consumption.

SERT testing is a mandatory part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ENERGY STAR for Servers v2.0 specification, expected to be published next month.

Improving datacenter energy efficiency

According to an EPA report, datacenters accounted for nearly three percent of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2011. The EPA and SPEC see SERT as a major tool that will help datacenters become more energy-efficient.

"We believe that this tool will provide excellent insight into server energy performance and help computing professionals better understand the energy consumption of products, which in turn will help reduce operating costs and help datacenter managers more precisely plan their future energy needs," says Robert J. Meyers, ENERGY STAR's datacenter products lead.

Simple-to-use, full-featured tool

Although SERT benefits from SPEC's extensive experience developing SPECpower_ssj2008, it differs in key ways from a benchmark. It does not provide comparative scores and is designed to test systems "as shipped," without the extensive tuning that vendors typically perform to increase benchmark test scores.

"SERT is designed to be an economical and simple-to-use tool, requiring minimal equipment and skills," says Klaus-Dieter Lange, SPECpower committee chair. "We expect it to drive more efficient solutions from server manufacturers and to provide guidance that will lead datacenter managers to better energy-related decisions."

Built on SPEC’s Chauffeur framework, major characteristics of SERT include:

  • Synthetic worklets that test discrete system components such as memory and storage, providing detailed power consumption data at different load levels.
  • Automatic collection of system configuration data with a graphical user interface to review and edit the information.
  • Automatic validation of results at both runtime and upon completion of testing.
  • Multi-threading and multiple-system runs, providing scalability across a wide range of servers.
  • Portability to various computing platforms.
  • Run-time behavior that can be changed for research purposes.
  • Results available in both machine- and human-readable forms, enabling automatic submission to government-sponsored certification programs.

Cooperative development

The SPECpower committee that developed SERT includes representatives from AMD, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel and Microsoft, with veteran SPEC benchmark developers Greg Darnell, Alan Adamson and post-graduate researcher Christian Koopmann as supporting contributors. The EPA provides regular high-level policy and directional guidance to the SPECpower committee, and other organizations around the world contribute input and feedback.

Available immediately

SERT is available immediately from SPEC for $2,800. Discounts are available for qualifying non-profit research and academic organizations. SERT requires a SPEC-accepted power analyzer and temperature sensor. Visit www.spec.org/sert/ for more information.

About SPEC

SPEC is a non-profit organization that establishes, maintains and endorses standardized benchmarks to evaluate performance for the newest generation of computing systems. Its membership comprises more than 130 leading computer hardware and software vendors, educational institutions, research organizations, and government agencies worldwide.

Company, product and service names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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