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Software can be green. The critical impact of software on overall system efficiency is frequently overlooked by those focusing on hardware-specific system features. The Intel® Energy Checker SDK provides a way to measure how "green" a system is by measuring the amount of productivity done by a system vs. the energy consumption of that system. Now with a host of new features for 2011, the Intel® Energy Checker SDK Release 2.0 makes it easier than ever to measure energy consumption, instrument applications to determine how much useful work a system does, and to report energy efficiency metrics.
Measuring power consumption is one key part of determining energy efficiency, but power consumption alone doesn't tell the whole story. A low power system that gets little real work done may be less efficient than a higher-power system that performs a lot of work for the energy it consumes. There is no "one size fits all" metric that captures the actual work done by every type of system, since workloads vary so dramatically from application to application. The industry needs clear metrics to correlate business productivity with the amount of energy consumed, and the Intel® Energy Checker SDK provides software engineers with the tools to instrument their applications and systems to measure and track their system-specific energy efficiency.
Figure 1. Sample output of Windows* Performance Monitor and the SDK monitoring tool. In this screenshot, a private version of POVRay* was instrumented using the Intel® Energy Checker SDK to compute pixel rendering rates and energy consumption while rendering a 3D scene.
The Intel® Energy Checker API provides the functions required for exporting and importing counters from an application. A counter stores the number of times a particular event or process has occurred, much like the way an odometer records the distance a car has traveled. Other applications can read these counters and take actions based on current counter values or trends derived from reading those counters over time. The core Intel® Energy Checker API consists of five functions to open, re-open, read, write, and close a counter.
The Intel® Energy Checker SDK API exposes metrics of "useful work" done by an application through easy software instrumentation. For example, the amount of useful work done by a payroll application is different from the amount of useful work performed by a video serving application, a database application, or a mail server application. All too often, activity is measured by how busy a server is while running an application rather than by how much work that application completes. The Intel® Energy Checker SDK provides a way for the software developer to determine what measures of "useful work" are important for that application and expose those metrics through a simple API.
Even better, the Intel® Energy Checker is available as a no-cost, royalty-free licensed download from Intel.
New features for Release 2.0 include the following:
- Support for systems without file systems (such as embedded or mobile devices) and for MeeGo*
- Support for additional power meters, including Watts-Up* PRO, Kill-a-Watt*, ZES Zimmer* LMG450/LMG500/LMG95, and certain APC* Power Distribution Units
- Support for multi-channel digital acquisition (DAQ) devices, including the Yokogawa* MW100 DAQ
- Support for Objective-C*, raw TCP, and serial-over-USB interfaces
- Enhanced high-performance computing and cluster support via Ganglia* integration and a Cluster Energy Efficiency tool
- Dynamic web updates via HTML5 support from the PL GUI Monitor tool
- Energy tool to measure the energy consumption of a given task (similar to the Linux* "time" command), and more.
- Intel® Energy Checker SDK (binaries, source code | zip file)
- Intel® Energy Checker SDK User Guide (PDF | 18MB)
- Intel® Energy Checker SDK Companion Applications User Guide (PDF | 2MB)
- Intel® Energy Checker SDK Device Kit User Guide (PDF | 2MB)
- How Green Is Your Software - White Paper (PDF | 68KB)
- End User License Agreement (EULA)
The Intel® Energy Checker SDK was designed to provide a simple API as well as the tools required to define, measure, and share energy efficiency data. ISVs can instrument their applications’ source code to export and import counters in a standard way. Although the initial intent of this SDK is to facilitate energy efficiency analysis and optimizations, it can be used to expose any counter meaningful to an ISV and its customers. For example, software developers can use the counter mechanisms to report quality of service metrics or performance-related counters at the developer's discretion.
And, while originally conceived to run in data center or telecom environments, the SDK can be used on client or mobile platforms. It’s designed to operate with Windows*, Linux*, Solaris* 10, and MacOS* X. From within the Intel® Energy Checker SDK, you will find numerous code samples.
Jamel Tayeb, Applications Engineer
Kevin Bross, Modular Systems Architect
* Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others