Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wanted: platform power standards

I think the computer industry needs a more comprehensive set of power efficiency standards.

At the Fall Processor Forum yesterday both Intel and IBM talked about their recent adoption of microcontrollers to monitor and control the power, heat, frequency and voltage of a CPU. Intel uses the Platform Environment Control Interface to link to chips that handle some of those functions.

IBM sketched out the Power6, its first CPU use of an external management controller and called for a discussion about how to create an approach that would let users set power efficiency policies based on their workloads.

My impression is both companies are going down the right road in parallel. I think at some point they will realize, along with other competitors, there could be some valuable cooperation in setting a baseline of standards for this new power efficient era. --rbm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Standards should exist where:

- There is zero to little opportunity to differentiate - the technology is a commodity.

- Customers are seriously harmed by significant variations in design and implementation.

Intel, and to a lesser degree, IBM, is focused on standards only where they either cannot dominate, the ecosytem is too large, cumbersome and requires a multi-year transition to where Intel wants to be, and where value-add differentiation is garnering profit margin to the solution or product provider instead of Intel.

Numerous examples exist in blades, storage, networking, etc. where Intel has attempted to gut the abilty innovate by pushing standards as the great customer panecea. The fact is, these solutions can be implemented on a variety of silicon or offer mechanical innovations that make customer-visible differentiation possible. This cause Intel great distress as customers don't see "Intel Leap Ahead / Inside" as the brand but the actual product or solution provider who provided the value add and reaped the profit margin and customer control point.

Standards are fine but they can cause greater harm to customers and the viability of the industry than good if created too quickly or pushed too strongly. Keep in mind that every vendor is focused on customer face time and establishing the control point for future sales. Standards take away that face time and control point opportunity leaving the today's and tomorrow's profit margin at Intel's door. No one really wants to see Intel gain any more control any more quickly than possible. SoC is coming already from Intel, AMD, Sun, and IBM - does anyone really thing standards on everything around that SoC is going to be a good thing for any competitor's survival?