“The team estimates that data centers in North America can save $870 million annually using this approach, with the yearly serial-link power savings at data centers worldwide by 2020 equaling Japan’s yearly electricity consumption.”
Researchers developed a way to use burst-mode technology to cut microprocessor power consumption. Their approach could save data centers in North America millions of dollars annually.
Serial links move data between microprocessors and other electronic devices. As vital as they are, serial links are idle 50-70% of the time. Idle, however, does not mean off.
Current technology demands that serial links stay powered up, consuming microprocessor power to the tune of 20%. And, when everything is added up, that could amount to 7% of a data-center‘s power budget.
A breakthrough by researchers at the University of Illinois
A research team from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois headed by Associate Professor Pavan Kumar Hanumolu and PhD student and lead author Tejasvi Anand have developed a transceiver that converts the “always on” serial link into a burst-mode communication link that is able to power-off when idle and quickly power-on when required.
“Ideally, a burst mode link must be turned on/off in zero time, must consume zero power in the off-state and must incur zero energy overhead while making on/off transitions,” from the abstract of the team’s research paper. “However, these requirements are difficult to meet in practice and as a consequence, the efficacy of burst mode communication in achieving energy proportional operation is reduced.”
Difficult but doable
Hanumolu explains the research sponsored by Semiconductor Research Corporation (which is part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park) was to reduce serial-link power consumption by eliminating the link’s power component.
The Latest on: Data center power savings
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