Characterizing power and temperature behavior of POWER6-based system

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Microprocessor architectures have become increasingly power limited in recent years. Currently power and thermal envelopes dictate peak performance limits more than any other design constraint. In this work, we characterize thermal behavior and power consumption of an IBM POWER6-based system. We perform the characterization at several levels: application, operating system, and hardware level, both when the system is idle, and under load. At hardware level, we report a 25% reduction in total system power consumption by using the processor low power mode. We also study the effect of the hardware thread prioritization mechanism provided by POWER6 on different workloads and how this mechanism can be used to limit power consumption. From this static characterization study we derive a model based on performance counters that allows us to predict the total power consumption of the POWER6 system with an average error under 3% for CMP and 5% for SMT. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first power model of a system including CMP+SMT processors. The work reported in this paper can be generalized to model power consumption for a broader class of systems. Such power modeling is required for studying promising power reduction techniques. In terms of dynamic methods, intelligent thread placement can result in a boost in power efficiency. Our results show that such a power-aware thread placement results in up to 5× improvement in energy-delay squared product for our POWER6 system. © 2011 IEEE.