Improving Energy Efficiency across the Technology Ecosystem

At my Spring 2007 IDF keynote I said that in order to create a new product line for ultra-mobile devices, we have to create processors and chipsets that collectively reduce power by a factor of ten. Taking 2006 as the baseline, our first ultra-mobile processor was a 5-watt ultra-low-voltage design based on our mainstream mobile processor. In 2008, we will meet our decade goal of a 10x reduction in power by introducing a new low-power IA processor and chipset needing only one-seventh the board area of today’s ultra-mobile systems. The reduction in power consumption is the result of a more energy-efficient microarchitecture and a much higher degree of integration. More improvements are coming before the end of the decade that will improve platform-level power management and the efficiency of the voltage regulators.

In June of this year, Intel announced it was launching the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, along with several other leading companies. This is just one of many initiatives in which Intel is involved to help promote energy efficiency within our own organization as well as in our platforms. Another initiative is Intel’s focus on reducing our environmental footprint, while improving our performance.

In our research department, we are likewise committed to helping companies and users achieve better computing experiences in the future through advanced energy efficiency technologies from mobile devices to the data center. We approach energy efficiency from two perspectives: power management and power delivery.

In our power management work, our researchers are looking at ways of reducing power consumption on the platform during processor active and processor idle states. Our work here should result in greatly increased battery life for mobile devices, reduced power consumption of desktop and server platforms and better utilization of data center power to migrate processing loads and minimize thermal ‘hot spots’.

In power delivery, our researchers are looking at improving how power is delivered on the platform and how it is delivered inside a data center. Most platforms, particularly servers, are designed for optimum performance/watt at peak load. This creates significant power inefficiencies at lower performance levels. In the data center, our research, in part, takes us beyond our traditional focus areas but is a critical area of research when you consider that the EPA estimates that if current trends continue, an additional 10 power plants will be required by 2011 to meet the demands of data centers according to the Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency Public Law 109-431 dated 2 August, 2007.

Intel takes energy efficiency very seriously from our own manufacturing processes to the platforms that we deliver today and in the future. But in order to maximize improvements in energy efficiency it will require participation of the entire technology ecosystem. OS vendors, ISVs, peripheral manufacturers, OEMs, integrators, standards bodies and even users must work together to lead a move towards more efficient computing and to rethink their piece of the solution from an energy efficiency standpoint.

At a special press event preceding Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Monday (9/17), Raj Hazra, Director of our Systems Technology Lab will present an overview of our energy efficiency system architecture research. Raj will emphasize the leadership role that Intel is taking to help move the technology ecosystem to become more energy efficient. I expect you will be able to read more in the press about these efforts following that event.

Also, on Thursday (9/20) I will be presenting the IDF Research and Development keynote. I’ll be talking about how the online virtual worlds of today could one day evolve to become the 3D internet. There is a lot of hype around virtual worlds these days. Are they a fad? Are they just an opportunity for anonymous social networking? Or, will they one day become a primary medium for interactive education, commerce, politics, relationships international communications, medicine and much more? In my keynote, I will identify the challenges with creating the 3D internet and share what we as a company should do in partnership with the developer community to accelerate this transition. I encourage you to read Jerry Bautista’s recent post on physical modeling – an excellent example of how we are working to create a more immersive and interactive virtual environment.

In the days and weeks to come, you will have the opportunity to read more about our efforts in energy efficiency and other areas from some of our lead researchers. But, right now, I’ve got to go recharge my batteries.

2 Responses to Improving Energy Efficiency across the Technology Ecosystem

  1. Hello Justin,
    I think that 3D Internet is not just as important as new Mobile Web 2.0 in our world. A comfortable access to information that is presented in a richer form than using Mobile Web 1.0 (PDA versions of websites) from your personal device – a cell computer – that will be crucial for every current cell phone’s user in the future. I’m glad that Intel is making a great progress in power efficiency of ultra mobile devices – and I hope for more progress in its user interfaces to make them effective for everyone.

  2. Wen Lin says:

    Dear Mr. Rattner,
    Traditional flip-flops and SRAM cells consumes far more power than other circuits especially when your CPU is scaled down because these circuits need positive feedback from two inverters to latch the data and the noise margin of the flip-flop can deteriorate quickly and become unstable if the inverters are not matched and the leakage current is large. Most engineers solve this problem by using larger transistor and more current but I have a better solution.