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GICTS2008 - Savings from Multicore Computers

GICTS2008: How much energy can you save with a multicore computer for web applications

Seminar for GICTS2008 Green ICT: Learning to be Sustainable with Computers and Broadband, 11am Nov 14, Room N101, Building 108, The Australian National University, by Dr Peter Strazdins.


Server computers for web applications are typically configured from systems based from commodity processors. To gain sufficient power, these processors are in systems connected by shared memory (SMP) interconnects and/or aggregated into cluster computers connected by fast Ethernet or similar interfaces.

In this talk, I will explain why, from the point of view of web servers (and for that matter any transaction-oriented application), this is not only inefficient in terms of up-front costs but ongoing energy costs. This arises for a number of reasons: firstly the processors have a high clock speed, which causes high power consumption, but gives little compensating benefit for transactional applications. Secondly, much of the processor's chip area (and power consumption) is oriented towards extracting a high-degree instruction-level parallelism, which cannot be utilized for web applications. Thirdly, these systems waste energy because they are comprised of many disks connected by interconnects. Finally, in most instances, a single physical server system is devoted to a single or small numbers of applications for an organization, even when the average demand for those services is quite low.

I will then explain why the new wave of aggressive multicore / multithreaded processors are, such as the T2 CoolThreads, are a much more cost-effective solution for transaction-oriented applications. This is because they are specifically designed to exploit the concurrency of handling a large number of simultaneous transactions, while not wasting chip area (and energy) on architectural features that bring no benefit for these applications. By providing this processing power in a single chip, a powerful server can be contained in a single rack unit, with a relatively small number of disks and modest interconnection requirements. When combined with the technology of virtualization, it is also possible to consolidate different (logical) server systems on the same physical server. With state-of-the-art virtualization providing high degrees of security, such a configuration can provides an efficient and flexible solution for meeting peak demand.

T2 processor


These will be made available from here

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