It turns out to take a lot of power to power up a CPU chip. It is much more than just the raw number of instructions that might execute.
So taking a 1000hz clock interrupt actually consumes a significant amount of power.
I don't know what the stats are for x86 in this area is though.
As an aside, other things take lots more power than you might naively expect. On StrongARM's of, say 3 years ago, the cost of a miss in cache to reference main memory was equivalent to executing of order a hundred
instructions in cache.
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