[nSLUG] Measured wattage of atom system

D G Teed donald.teed at gmail.com
Thu Sep 18 11:03:43 ADT 2008

On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 9:33 AM, Michael Gillie <mikegpc at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm finding this discussion interesting. It's really hard to believe that a
> CPU and usage of a computer can cost that much!

It is the 24 hours a day aspect that makes it that way.
It is cheaper to run 1000 watts for one hour every day
(say a clothes dryer) than my 2 old systems 24 hours a day.

> A comment was made in the earlier parts of the discussion that caught my
> eye. It was concerning home Computers, and why someone would sacrifice
> processing power to save a few cents each day.
> My grandfather used to say "a penny saved is a penny earned." HOWEVER, i beg
> to differ....
> The money that you would save might cause frustrations. If you are a gamer,
> you need power. That is where power-sucking super-monster computers come in.
> Likewise with servers. A slow computer, mixed with a slow internet
> connection.... HELL on earth.
> I'm willing to sacrifice a little electricity for more processing power.

Keep in mind I'm comparing wattage of 1998 and 2000 generation
hardware power requirements against the Atom, not a typical 2008
system against the Atom.  The PIII CPU I have been running
was rated at 30 watts for the CPU alone, while current generation
CPUs are often in the 60 to 90 watt range and then a few more watts for
the massive heatsink fan.

I have noticed the Atom system is very responsive as a Linux
desktop.  With SATA, hdparm measured disk I/O is 6 times faster
to the cache and 60% faster to the platter in contrast to same brand and
size IDE drives on the PIII.  It can maintain transparent consoles while
moving the console window against the background, plays You Tube
videos well, etc.   Not a gamer rig, but I don't play games on Linux.

I'm also impressed with the Debian 4 install on this.  The video was
detected and configured without manual intervention in xorg.conf.
(The bulk of my Debian 4 experience is upgrades from 3.1)

The 24x7 role in my case is network file storage, email server, and web site.
An Atom system will do that very well for the low traffic I see at home.
Anything more would be a waste of money in hardware costs and electricity costs.

I would also recommend Atom based system for a basic non-gamer
desktop.  If the power footprint isn't interesting, then the low cost could be.
The only snag I had was putting a three prong case plug for power LED
on the two prongs on the Atom board.  A knive changed the case's
three hole plug into two single pin connectors and that was solved.

> Intel has come a fair way. Let's finish the job, lol. We need a CPU that
> saves electricity, yet Processes like mad.

Yep, I suspect that is in the works.  It kinda makes sense.  We move forward
with denser fabrication and lower voltages, so let's go back and
redo the lower frequency CPUs with that.  Kinda like watching
Winnie the Pooh (classic 1977) movie when you are grown up and
getting a lot more out of it.


More information about the nSLUG mailing list