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From performance rating to sustainability: SPEC tackles a key global challenge

by Klaus-Dieter Lange, Chair, International Standards Group

Since 2008, SPEC has developed and maintained the SPECpower_ssj benchmark to evaluate the power and performance characteristics of server-class computers. Like other SPEC benchmarks, the SPECpower benchmark enables vendors to make realistic comparisons between their products and those of their competitors, while allowing buyers to determine the best solutions for their use cases. As sustainability has become an increasingly important global issue, the SPECpower benchmark has played a critical role in enabling and encouraging vendors to improve the energy efficiency of their products. Over the last few years, the growing focus on sustainability has also led to an important new direction for SPEC.

In February 2013, SPEC created the SERT suite at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support the EPA’s Energy Star program. Unlike the SPECpower benchmark, which measures energy efficiency, the SERT suite enables government and regulatory bodies to set a uniform energy efficiency standard that servers must meet to comply with a regulation or obtain a certification, such as an Energy Star rating.

Our work with the EPA and other governmental bodies led to a decision to form the new International Standards Group (ISG), which in turn formed the Server Efficiency Committee with a mission to oversee the establishment and development of standardized server benchmarks for use primarily in governmental regulations and compliance programs related to energy use and sustainability. A key mandate of the Committee is to collaborate with national and international standards development organizations, such as ISO/IEC JTC 1, to enhance global standards.

Today, the ISO/IEC 21836-compliant SERT suite provides a solid technical base that organizations and governments can use to achieve their energy efficiency objectives. In addition to supporting Energy Star certification in the U.S., SERT results are required to sell servers in Japan and the EU, as well as for Cloud Service Provider deployments in the EU. In addition, the China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS) is currently considering the SERT suite for inclusion in their upcoming server energy regulations.

Updates in SERT 2.0.6 suite include:

  • Windows Server 2022 support – Reflects SPEC’s commitment to keeping its benchmarks current with emerging technologies, and ensures organizations can continue taking advantage of the suite as they upgrade to the latest Microsoft server technology.
  • Integration of the SPEC PTDaemon 1.10.0 Interface:
    • Additional temperature sensors – In response to user requests for additional temperature sensors, users can now choose from an even larger selection of ISO-compliant temperature sensors. The PTDaemon Interface now supports TFA Dostman and Cleware temperature sensors.
    • Multichannel mode – Allows for compliant results via channel summing on devices that support it (Hioki 3336/3337, Yokogawa WT330/500, ZES Zimmer LMG 450/500/600). This enables users to measure larger systems with fewer power analyzers.
    • LXI protocol – Added the LXI protocol code to the Linux interface to enable connecting devices, such as Yokogawa, using this protocol. Allows users to choose their preferred power analyzer interface.

The SERT 2.0.6 suite is available for immediate download from SPEC for 2,800 USD. Discounts are available for qualifying non-profit research and academic organizations. Current SERT 2 licensees are eligible to receive a free upgrade. The SERT suite requires a SPEC-accepted power analyzer and temperature sensor. Visit the SERT 2 website for more information.

For more information about SPEC, or to join the International Standards Group and the Server Efficiency Committee, visit

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