Power efficiency is spawning manycore processor solutions

1 min read

The 'cloud' is 'out there somewhere'; a virtual place where web pages are served, social networks maintained and other applications are housed and run.

In reality, cloud computing is about servers in data centres. Some estimates say there are now 8million servers, of which 60% or so are running Windows based applications. Data centres are expensive to run; their thousands of servers generate large amounts of heat and it often requires as much power to cool the building as it does to run the servers. Not surprisingly, data centre operators are looking to cut their costs. The data centre industry has developed the PUE metric, which relates the total power delivered to the data centre to the power consumed by the IT equipment. Using its Open Compute Project, Facebook has reduced the PUE at its Oregon data centre to 1.07 – the industry average is 1.5. More efficient data centres require more efficient processors, consuming less power per MIP. Because Intel's server oriented processors are seen by some to be large consumers of power, other companies are looking to develop more efficient devices – manycore processors. Some of these promise an order of magnitude improvement in power efficiency. There's one company which you might expect to be involved in low power server technology, but it has yet to make an impact. ARM's low power processor technology should be ideal for servers, but there is one problem. The ARM architecture is 32bit; data centres are exclusively 64bit operations. ARM is expected to announce a 64bit architecture in the near future. When it does, it's likely that another front will be opened in its battle with Intel.