New SPEC Benchmark to Measure Workstation Power Consumption

18 Mar, 2008

Industry-standard test is scheduled for summer release.

The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation Graphics and Workstation Performance Group (SPEC/GWPG) has begun developing an industry-standard benchmark that measures power consumption in relation to performance for professional workstations.

"Power consumption is an increasingly important factor for professional workstation buyers and vendors," said George Chaltas, SPEC/GWPG chair. "SPEC/GWPG is uniquely qualified to provide a power-performance benchmark for workstations: We have proven success in establishing standardized benchmarks based on workstation applications and assistance from the SPECpower committee, which has already delivered a strong framework for standardized power measurement."

The SPEC/GWPG benchmark reportedly will be available this summer and will incorporate workloads from the SPECviewperf benchmark for 3D graphics, as well as CPU workloads in areas such as rendering, financial modeling, computational fluid dynamics, scientific computing, and video encoding. Workloads will have the common attributes of scalability, open source, and portability across all major workstation computing platforms.

Current participants in the SPEC/GWPG power-performance effort include AMD, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, HP, Intel, NVIDIA, and Sun Microsystems. SPEC/GWPG is working with the SPECpower committee, developer of the recently released SPECpower_ssj2008 benchmark for servers, and receiving direct input from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Once finalized, the benchmark will be submitted to the EPA for use in its v5 requirements for workstation ENERGY STAR qualification.

"The ability to measure power consumption for professional workstations is an important element in EPA's ENERGY STAR Computer program," said Katharine Kaplan, EPA program manager, ENERGY STAR IT Equipment. "We are pleased to be working with SPEC/GWPG to give vendors and customers a standardized tool that adds energy efficiency to the list of metrics buyers can use to evaluate workstations."

Chaltas, the SPEC/GWPG chair, stressed the importance of broad industry participation in developing the new benchmark.

"This benchmark will have a significant impact on buying decisions, development work, and the public's perception of technology leadership," Chaltas said. "Companies in the workstation market should take advantage of the opportunity to help define a standard that will be used by customers, competitors, researchers, and the media worldwide."

For more information on the SPEC/GWPG power-performance working group, contact the SPEC office at