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Throw your server off balance

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…Balanced Power Plan that is.

Caring about the nature is most certainly a likeable trait. But did you know that your servers might be doing that without you actively told them to? And it comes with a cost.

With Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 and 2012 the default power plan is set to ‘Balanced’ and thus setting the core speed to a smaller value, in order to save power. The idea is that we don’t need to run at full speed the entire time as the server might has some idle time now and then. When needed, the core speed will then be adjusted automatically. In theory.

Various internet sites states that you could get a 20 % performance gain by changing your power plan to ‘High performance’. However in some case you might not get a performance gain at all. In one case at a customer we did a test on two different sets of logic and the performance nearly doubled! Yes, that is right – Doubled.

You can see what power plan your servers are using by going to Control Panel –> Power Options.

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We can’t possibly know how it will affect performance on your servers, but you should be able to test it rather easily without investing too much time, by running some of your task using both power plans. Should that not reveal any differences in performance you would have to use a more elaborate approach – But in our case the improvements where quite obvious.

Whether you should use a balanced power plan or a high performance power plan from an ecological perspective, is not for us to devide, but since you investment in expensive equipment you should at least be aware that your server by default will use a balance power plan so that you actively can make your choice.

Using the tool CPU-Z you will be able to see your current core speed (It also comes without an installer).

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Notice that in our case the default core speed in the Balanced power plan was 800 MHz – One third of the core speed. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if it was able to get back to full core speed instantly when needed. But in our case we found that only in rare cases it was able to throttle back to full speed even when doing somewhat demanding task.

Now – Are your servers using Balanced power plans? Intentionally? What performance improvements do you see when using the High performance power plan?