Thursday, 18 February 2010

New green Intel developments

IntelNetworkWorld has reported that Intel’s research labs have developed a microprocessor that produces up to 41% more throughput using the same amount of energy as a comparable conventional core.

The advantage comes from the fact that the core includes distributed sensors and error detectors that enable the automatic reissue of instructions or automatic adaptation of the operating conditions to achieve error-free performance.

The microprocessor outperforms conventional processors that are designed to perform at guaranteed levels despite fluctuations in temperature and voltage and the impact of material degradation over time.  These processors have built-in reserve cycles to ensure the performance is delivered, hence the use of more power for lower throughput.

Intel researchers are apparently investigating how far they can go with the error detection and correction and what kind of impact these adaptive cores would have on commercial processors, so it’s still a long way from inclusion in commercial products.

• Thanks to greenIT.fr for highlighting Intel’s Energy Checker Software Development Kit (SDK) which aims to correlate business productivity and energy consumption. 

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The development kit helps developers analyse the energy efficiency of an application.  ISVs can instrument their applications’ source code to export and import counters to enable energy efficiency analysis (although it can also be used for any meaningful counter).

Intel points out that the amount of useful work done by a payroll application is different from the amount performed by a video, database or mail server application.  But activity is often measured by how busy a server is while running an application rather than by how much work that application actually completes.  The Energy Checker SDK provides a way for the software developer to determine their own measure of "useful work" for that application and expose those metrics through a simple API.

The Intel® Energy Checker is free to download from Intel.  Full details are here.

Both are good examples of how green IT is looking more and more at the detail of hardware and applications to see where savings can be made.  Most coverage of reducing power in IT operations focuses in on the easy wins – turn it off, virtualise, etc - but much of that has already been done (see Is virtualisation running out of steam?).  To continue to make savings in energy and emissions there will need to be much more focus on the nuts and bolts of IT, i.e. the processors and the applications.  Clearly it’s a fact that Intel has taken on board.

© The Green IT Review

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