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Colloquium - Feng

Green Destiny and Its Evolving Parts
Wu-Chun Feng
Virginia Tech University
9/7/2006
10:00am-11:00am
NCAR

Since 1991, the performance per watt of a supercomputer has only improved 300-fold and the performance per square foot only 65-fold. Clearly, we are building less and less efficient supercomputers, thus resulting in the construction of massive machine rooms, and even, entirely new buildings. Furthermore, as these supercomputers continue to follow "Moore's Law for Power Consumption," the reliability of these systems continues to plummet, as per Arrenhius' equation as applied to microelectronics.

To address these problems (back in late 2001 and early 2002), we constructed a super-efficient supercomputer dubbed Green Destiny, a 240-processor supercomputer that fit in a telephone booth (i.e., a footprint of five square feet) and sipped only 3.2 kilowatts of power (i.e., two hairdryers). Green Destiny provided reliable supercomputing cycles (i.e., no unscheduled downtime in its two-year lifetime) while sitting in an 85-degree Fahrenheit dusty warehouse at 7,400 feet above sea level, and it did so without any special facilities, i.e., no air conditioning, no humidification control, no air filtration, and no ventilation.

However, Green Destiny was an architecture-specific solution that lacked generality, i.e., the ability to run on any type of processor architecture. Consequently, we evolved the Green Destiny idea into a more general software-based approach, specifically a power-aware approach that runs on commodity processors to save as much as 70% in energy consumption with minimal impact on performance.

This talk is sponsored by the National Center for Atmospheric Research Scientific Computing Division and will be held in the Main Seminar Room at the Mesa Lab.

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University of Colorado Boulder
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