Feeds

Google spanks memory, disk and networking vendors

Calls for proportional response

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

"A processor running at a lower voltage-frequency mode can still execute instructions without requiring a performance-impacting mode transition," the Googlers write. "It is still active. There are no other components in the system with active low-power modes. Networking equipment rarely offers any low-power modes, and the only low-power modes currently available in mainstream DRAM and disks are fully inactive. That is, using the device requires paying a latency and energy penalty for an inactive-to-active mode transition. Such penalties can significantly degrade the performance of systems idle only at submillisecond time scales."

Turning from low power states, Barroso and Hólzle look at the average usage and peak usage of servers. The problem here is that servers show the most energy efficiency under peak usage but sadly spend very little time operating all out. In the average 10-50 per cent usage zone, servers demonstrate only between 20 and 70 per cent energy efficiency.

So, the Googlers have called on hardware designers to produce gear which can hit between 60 and 90 per cent energy efficiency when running in the average usage zone. You can see the idealized curve for such a scenario here.

Reaching this dream state will take work from all parts of the hardware industry, according to Barroso and Hólzle.

"Energy-proportional computers would enable large additional energy savings, potentially doubling the efficiency of a typical server," they write. "Some CPUs already exhibit reasonably energy-proportional profiles, but most other server components do not.

"We need significant improvements in memory and disk subsystems, as these components are responsible for an increasing fraction of the system energy usage. Developers should make better energy proportionality a primary design objective for future components and systems. To this end, we urge energy-efficiency benchmark developers to report measurements at nonpeak activity levels for a more complete characterization of a system's energy behavior."

Google takes its data center research very seriously, and hardware makers should pay attention to the results.

As you all know, Google makes its own servers, hoping to achieve cost and energy efficiency gains. In addition, the company crafts its own switches for similar reasons. (Our congratulations go out again to Nyquist Capital analyst Andrew Schmitt for his investigative work here. We understand a report is coming out soon noting that Steve Jobs has a large ego.)

While Google's rivals appear unwilling to do similar custom work, they will demand that hardware makers produce gear with comparable cost/energy efficiency characteristics in order to remain competitive with the ad broker. Beyond that, any lost opportunity to meet Google's standards means that a component maker faces the proposition of missing out on huge volume sales to Google.

Overall, the work of Barroso and his peers at Google is a huge help to server customers of all shapes and sizes. Google may have unique needs from a scale perspective, but its heft is pushing hardware makers in an energy conscious direction that threatens to benefit data center operators as a whole. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway
Combine Blu-ray and M-DISC and you get this monster
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux
OAM takes wireless signals to 32 Gbps
Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks
Millions of 4chan users howl with laughter as Cupertino slams stable door
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time
The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever
Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up
Big Blue's big super's big appetite for big data in big clouds for big analytics
Seagate's triple-headed Cerberus could SAVE the DISK WORLD
... and possibly bring us even more HAMR time. Yay!
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.