Power saving methods

  • I am using Pfsense in PC(Dell GX280). Dell GX280 is consuming nearly 100 Watt. 100W is unaffordable for me because in my country electricity is very expensive.
    Recently my friend suggest me to use small router type networking computer like Soekris, Lanner, AR Infotek, juniper networks.
    then I go at google and search about them and i found that it best way to save my electricity.
    I need help from you, tell me more similar small Computers on which I can install Pfsense. Soekris, Lanner,AR Infotek, juniper networks are not available in our country. I cant afford that product whose power consumption is more then 35 Watt.
    Before answering,keep in mind that my main discussion point is How to save electricity. If you have other options for it please tell me.
    With heard , Thank you very much for helping.
    Take care.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Have you actually measured 100W? I'd be surprised if it consumed that continuously.
    You may be able to reduce the power consumption of the GX280 by swapping out the CPU. I removed the 2.8GHz P4 from my box and put in a P4-M. This saved some power 42W at idle vs 55W (90W peak).


  • Depending on your WAN link speeds, an Alix might be suitable. They are reported able to handle 84Mbps through the box and use about 5W. See http://www.pcengines.ch Apparently PCEngines will ship them worldwide.

  • Alix or Jetway with atom processor. Make sure you have powerd turned on to reduce CPU states and you will not be able to run many packages.

  • I've built a custom rig based on Sandybridge mobile (Ivybridge mobile would probably be better). It is motivated by the need to run several VMs.

    The bulk of the power consumption will come from the CPU. It is a quad core CPU @ 2.2GHz (3.0 turbo). When running full load on a single CPU, power consumption does not go past 25W. When running full load on all 8 logical cores with turbo engaged, the whole system consumes around 65W. This is measured at the wall. Idle power consumption will be between 15 and 20W (depends on your exact setup).

    Depending on what you need from your system, e.g how much traffic you push, how much extra horsepower you need, how much time spent idle, this may or may not be right for you.

    An atom is great if you only want to push 100mbits and do nothing else. It may have lower idle power consumption (which can be a big bonus, depending on how much time is spent idling). If you need VPN encrypted traffic, you may need more grunt. If you're pushing traffic all the time, a stronger system like descibed above will probably be better as it will actually use less power for the same work. There is no simple answer without knowing your needs (aside from reduced power consumption).

  • A quick way to reduce power consumption on a GX280, aside from what Steve mentioned about the CPU swap, is to run pfSense from a SSD or Compact Flash card.  Run the nano/Embedded version to reduce wear on the SSD/CF card (Will they go in to sleep in pfSense? If so, even just running that with a spinning drive could spin down the drive to save power.)

    Also, disconnect the CDROM, you're not using it, same with the floppy if it's so equipped.  Also disconnect the keyboard (and mouse if one is connected.)  All these things are small, but they add up.

    GX280's have a PCI-Express slot, and often a video card occupying it.  Take it out, use the onboard video (there may be a small grey cover over the onboard video port.

    The down side of a GX280 is that it's (assuming you can't get a P4-M) still a P4 with Hyperthreadding.  This was previous to much of any power saving features.  A GX280 can't reduce the clock or FSB speed through the BIOS (well, I think there's some kind of compatibility mode that's crazy slow, you don't want that.)  So, if you can't take out the CPU, you're stuck with the core of your system being power hungry.

    I really should take some measurements of the systems I have hanging around my house.  I'm pretty sure my old PII Celeron based GX100 is right around 35 watts, but I need to test it.

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