Power consumption hurdles litter path to exascale computing
July 12, 2012 // Dylan McGrath
Thanks to parallelism and technology scaling, exascale computing will become a reality before the decade is out, but it won't live up to its full potential unless fundamental power consumption barriers are overcome, according to Intel Fellow Shekhar Borkar.
Delivering a keynote address at the Semicon West fab tool vendor tradeshow, Borkar noted that exascale computing is expected to become a reality by the end of the decade. By about 2018, engineers are expected to create an exascale supercomputer—capable of a 1,000-fold performance improvement compared with today's state-of-the-art petaflop systems.
If history is any guide, about 10 years after the existence of exascale supercomputers, the technology will find its way into PCs and then, eventually, into mobile systems, Borkar said.
But if current trends hold true, an exascale computer will consume vast amounts of power, according to Borkar. The formidable challenge, he said, is to create an exascale computing system that consumes only 20 megawatts (MW) of power.
If engineers can use new technology to create an exascale system that consumes only 20 MW of power, the same technology can also be used to dramatically lower the power consumption of lower performance systems, to the point where giga-scale systems consuming only 20 milliwatts of power can be used in small toys and mega-scale systems that consume only 20 microwatts could be used in heart monitors.
"A mega-scale machine was a supercomputer back in the 60s," Borkar added.
Borkar said the way forward is to improve both energy per transistor and energy per compute operation. Conventional CMOS scaling improves both, he said, but not to a large enough degree. And indication are that energy per transistor at the circuit level will not decline as much as it has in the past, he said.
"Clearly we need to do something more than just scaling of technology," Borkar said.
Scaling down supply voltage increases energy efficiency, Borkar said. But doing so has a side effect—leakage power does not reduce as much as total power consumption, meaning that leakage power becomes a higher percentage of total power consumption, he said.
Borkar said near threshold voltage circuit design both reduces total power consumption and improves energy efficiency. "Clearly this is very promising technology," Borkar said. "But as you start solving the problem of energy efficiency, leakage power dominates."
During Borkar's 40-minute address Tuesday, he made several other observations. One was to emphasize the importance of "local computing" at a time when everyone is talking up the virtues of cloud computing. He noted that communications technologies used for moving data, including Bluetooth, Ethernet and Wi-Fi, use far more power than those used for local computing within a chip or system. "Clearly, data movement energy will dominate the future," Borkar said.
Automotive MCU benchmark takes energy efficiency into account
May 21, 2013
Today, cars are crammed with microprocessors, and many of them are not completely switched off when the driver parks and ...
EnSilica partners Cross Border Technologies to boost sales growth in key European markets
Industry's first ultra-wideband Doherty amplifiers support broadband operation
Graphics chip recognizes nearby pedestrians and bicycles
EMS boom for medical industry says analyst
Gemalto teams with Encore Networks for mission critical M2M communications as US shifts to wireless
May 21, 2013
European smartcard specialist Gemalto has teamed up with US machine-to-machine (M2M) router supplier Encore Networks to provide ...
Solar industry capital spending hits seven-year low in 2013 but upturn is on the cards
Apple's overseas tax evasion stirs debate over US tax code
Could Intel enable USD200 Ultrabook?
InterviewWireless control drives Atmel in Europe
Atmel's recent acquisition of Osmo Devices with a WiFi Direct design center in Cambridge and some key microcontroller launches has seen the company focus heavily on wireless control in Europe says Jörg ...
Filter WizardCheck out the Filter Wizard Series of articles by Filter Guru Kendall Castor-Perry which provide invaluable practical Analog Design guidelines.
Linear video channel
READER OFFERRead more
The development platform for i.MX 6Quad from element14 (built to the Freescale SABRE Lite design) is an evaluation platform featuring the powerful i.MX 6Q, a multimedia application processor with Quad ARM Cortex-A9 cores at 1.2 GHz from Freescale Semiconductor.
This month, Freescale and element14 are giving away five such platforms, worth £128.06 each, for EETimes Europe's readers to win. The platform helps evaluate the rich set of peripherals and includes a 10/100/Gb Ethernet port, SATA-II, HDMI v1.4, LVDS, parallel RGB interface, touch screen interface, analog headphone/microphone, micro TF and SD card interface, USB, serial port, JTAG, camera interface, and input keys for Android.
And the winners are...
In our previous reader offer, Pico Technology was giving away one of its recently launched PicoScope 3207B, a 2-channel USB 3.0 oscilloscope worth 1451 Euros. Lucky winner Mr L. Sanchez-Gonzalez from Spain should be receiving his PicoScope 3207B soon. Let's wish them some interesting findings with his projects.
December 15, 2011 | Texas instruments | 222901974
Unique Ser/Des technology supports encrypted video and audio content with full duplex bi-directional control channel over a single wire interface.