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1.2. Power Management Basics
The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 kernel used a periodic timer for each CPU. This timer prevents the CPU from truly going idle, as it requires the CPU to process each timer event (which would happen every few milliseconds, depending on the setting), regardless of whether any process was running or not. A large part of effective power management involves reducing the frequency at which CPU wakeups are made.
This is especially true for devices that have moving parts (for example, hard disks). In addition to this, some applications may leave an unused but enabled device "open"; when this occurs, the kernel assumes that the device is in use, which can prevent the device from going into a power saving state.
In many cases, however, this depends on modern hardware and correct BIOS configuration. Older system components often do not have support for some of the new features that we now can support in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. Make sure that you are using the latest official firmware for your systems and that in the power management or device configuration sections of the BIOS the power management features are enabled. Some features to look for include:
- ACPI (C state)
Modern CPUs together with Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) provide different power states. The three different states are:
- Sleep (C-states)
- Frequency (P-states)
- Heat output (T-states or "thermal states")
As obvious as this might sound, one of the best ways to actually save power is to turn off systems. For example, your company can develop a corporate culture focused on "green IT" awareness with a guideline to turn of machines during lunch break or when going home. You also might consolidate several physical servers into one bigger server and virtualize them using the virtualization technology we ship with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.