Feeds

Researchers propose ‘overclock’ scheme for mobiles

Processing at a sprint to overcome tech limitations

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

It’s getting increasingly difficult to pack enough processing power into mobile phone form factors, so US researchers are proposing a new scheme: seriously over-spec the processors, but only use their power when it’s needed.

The research paper, authored by scientists from the Universities of Pennsylvania and Michigan, suggests a scheme called “computational sprinting” – build mobile chips not with a couple of cores working hard all the time, but with as many as 16 cores, most of which are idle unless they’re needed.

The paper’s authors say that future smartphone development is running into a dual problem: shedding heat, and preserving battery life. While we’re not yet at the limit of transistor density, they say that “voltage scaling has stalled”.

For much of the history of the integrated circuit, smaller geometries that allow more transistors to be packed into less space are accompanied with lower operating voltage, which helps designers cope with the job of getting rid of the heat generated by all those extra transistors.

Without that, power density increases from one generation of processor to the next and in mobile devices, power (and cooling) rather than chip real estate becomes the barrier to higher performance.

Hence the “computational sprinting” described by the researchers. Their analysis looks at a system that spends most of its time operating a single core with 1W peak power, since most smartphones spend most of their time doing not very much. The system could, however, “burst up” to use all of its cores when necessary.

This, the paper states, is representative of the user experience with smart phones: “short bursts of intense computation punctuated by long idle periods waiting for user input” (El Reg: sounds like a quotation about war, for which I can’t find a good citation right now).

The whole chip could be fired up for the computationally-intensive task, even though this would momentarily exceed the power budget and heat dissipation capabilities of the device, because there’s a time lag between powering-up the processor cores and the extra heat generated. This “thermal capacitance” (also used by burst systems like Intel’s Turbo Boost technology), combined with usually “dark” silicon, could “result in an intense sprint with the potential to provide an order of magnitude improvement in responsiveness”, the authors state.

The paper, by Arun Raghavan and Milo Martin (University of Pennsylvania), and the University of Michigan’s Yixin Luo, Anuj Chandawalla, Marios Papaefthymiou, Kevin Pipe, Thomas Wenisch, was prepared for the 18th Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture, and is available here. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.