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Testing Power Savings with Low Voltage 1.35v Kingston Memory and Intel Avoton

Testing Power Savings with Low Voltage 1.35v Kingston Memory and Intel Avoton

by Patrick KennedyNovember 11, 2013

Recently we did a series of articles around an Intel Avoton platform by Supermicro. The Supermicro A1SAi-2750F has an Atom C2750 SoC onboard rated with a 20w TDP, but we found the overall platform took 33w under maximum load. In our review of the Intel Atom C2750 we found that memory performance was slightly below that of Haswell but certainly in the same ballpark using 1600MHz DIMMs. An interesting point was raised: this is a platform where four DIMMs will in fact have a significant impact on power consumption. Unlike a typical Intel Xeon E3-1200 server, the Atom platform is meant to run at a lower overall power envelope. As a result, items such as RAM, drives and add-in cards utilize a higher percentage of overall system power. Today we are investigating the impact of low power 1.35v SODIMM memory on the Intel Avoton platform.

Test Configuration

We setup two scenarios: higher power 1.5v and lower power 1.35v. We also decided to use two and four SODIMM configurations. To see what this looks like with the Intel Atom C2750 platform we used a standard test configuration:

Note: cooling was provided by our new thermal imaging test platform so it was excluded from these figures. The purpose was to get much closer to the memory impacts.

We had to manually set 1.5v operation in order to get a good comparison but this was easy enough to accomplish. While at 1333MHz 1.5v ECC SODIMMs were common, at 1600MHz the industry seems to have moved to 1.35v. Just to validate this approach, we also took the memory and compared it at 1.5v at 1333MHz to ensure we were getting similar figures. This was a good opportunity to test our our Extech 380803 True RMS power analyzer which is the same unit we use for processor reviews.

Testing the Impact of Memory Voltage and Quantity

We utilized eight basic setups for our testing. We varied three variables: number of SODIMMs (2 or 4), voltage (1.5v or 1.35v) and idle/ load. This gave us four neat pairs of data points to compare. To give a good sense of the impact of using low voltage memory we utilized

For the first test we utilized only two of the 8GB DIMMs. As one can see, in terms of total power consumption impact, the nominal power savings are similar to what we see in Xeon E3 and desktop applications. Idle power consumption is relatively similar but under load there is a sub-1w per DIMM difference. With only two DIMMs, the impact on total system power consumption was less than 10% but certainly still noticeable.

Kingston 16GB DDR3 SODIMM Power Consumption Comparison

Kingston 16GB DDR3 SODIMM Power Consumption Comparison

Moving to our 4x 8GB SODIMM test we see a similar pattern. Idle power consumption is very similar with the 1.35v memory edging a slight lead. On the other hand, under load there is a ~10% lower total system power consumption using the low voltage SODIMMs.

Kingston 32GB DDR3 SODIMM Power Consumption Comparison

Kingston 32GB DDR3 SODIMM Power Consumption Comparison

This is a major benefit. With the Xeon E3 and E5 platforms, moving from 1.5v to 1.35v yields smaller relative power consumption gains so there is an impact at an overall rack level. When looking at our fully loaded system including  four gigabit NICs under load and the CPU at full load, power savings from low voltage memory means the difference between 9 servers and 10 servers, fully loaded at 3A at 120v. On these low power platforms, higher density using lower power memory is a very tangible benefit.


There are two major factors at work here. First, and most noticeable is the fact that the lower voltage RAM makes a bigger difference in these low power systems. This is simple math at work. In high-end desktop and server systems that can pull well over 400w, saving a few watts per DIMM is a smaller percentage of overall system power. In low-power and high density applications, such as with the new Intel Atom C2750, we can see the overall impact of low voltage memory is much higher. When used in high-density applications such as micro clouds or hyper-scale applications such as HP Moonshot nodes, lower power RAM, such as the Kingston KVR16LSE11/8 modules we used, helps maximize density in a given power and cooling constraint to a much larger degree.

About The Author
Patrick Kennedy
Patrick has been running ServeTheHome since 2009 and covers a wide variety of home and small business IT topics. For his day job, Patrick is a management consultant focused in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about basic server building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.
  • Peter
    November 12, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Still the question is where to buy the A1SAi-2750F and when will they be widely available.

  • Tralalak
    November 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Off topic
    Patrick pls few dGPU (AMD or Nvidia) test with 8-core Atom C2750 “Avoton”
    Battlefield 4 … 🙂

  • Jyrki
    November 15, 2013 at 5:56 am

    1) Typo?
    “at 1600MHz the industry seems to have moved to 1.5v.”
    I assume you mean 1.35V.

    2) Please, please, please include numerical data to power consumption charts.

  • tom jay
    November 30, 2013 at 6:16 am

    Nice 1. Also need lower power SSD

  • Tommy Volt
    December 19, 2013 at 3:02 am

    The C2750 / Avoton can even be upgraded with 16 Gigabyte DDR3 modules, available as UDIMMs (240 Pin) or SO-DIMMs (204 Pin), with or without ECC from the company I’M Intelligent Memory, website:
    As these modules are made of just 16 pieces of 8 Gigabit DDR3 chips, the modules are dual-rank and still have total 16GByte. No special form factor, everything looks standard.
    Intel recently released a BIOS update for their C2000 Avoton series to support modules with 16GB capacity..
    Those 16GByte modules might also work in other systems that require UDIMMs or SO-DIMMs.
    When looking at the JEDEC DDR3 documentation, a 8 Gigabit DDR3 chip uses the same amount of address lines as a 4 Gigabit chip (A0 to A15). This means there is no hardware-modification required to run the modules. As a logical consequence, such 16GB modules should be working everywhere, in all types of CPUs, as long as the BIOS is programmed correctly to read the module SPD data and set these SPD-values in the memory controller.

  • chwbin
    January 30, 2014 at 3:18 am

    I test this board with my new memory of 16GB (2x 8GB A1 and B1 slots) 1600MHz 1.35v Kingston KVR16LSE11/8 DDR3. but I can’t boot it. the board report BIOS error which 1 beep. I reset the memory many times, but there is no way to me. my PWS is ENP-7025B. . is there someone help me?

  • k-rash
    July 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    As someone already said you should include the numbers when talking about power consumption or at least make them visible when hovering the charts.

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