AMD has added the same power management technology to its Opteron processor, used in servers, as already exists in its laptop and desktop microchips.

Called PowerNow, the technology is a combination of microprocessor instructions and operating system software that increases or reduces the amount of power supplied to the chip depending on how much it is being used.

Similar in concept to the Cool'n'Quiet technology used in AMD desktop systems, PowerNow will be useful in the server systems, where it can save on electricity and cooling costs in data centres, said Margaret Lewis, consumer software strategist at AMD. "It's kind of like the fan on your car knowing to kick in when your engine reaches a certain hotness," she said.

PowerNow instructions have actually been built into the Opteron processor since May, she said. Customers who have already purchased systems based on these chips will be able to activate PowerNow via a BIOS upgrade, available on AMD's website, when system support for PowerNow becomes generally available in the first half of 2005.