New chips in the assault on power consumption

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How ’bout this: a new company introducing new silicon. I feel like its 1985 again.

P. A. Semi announced Monday that they are releasing a new dual-core, 64-bit processor that runs at 2 GHz but uses only 5 to 13 watts (this claim puts it at 300-400% more efficient than similar mainstream chips). The chip is initially targeted at networking gear, but could ultimately prove enticing enough to HPC vendors to spur some “novel use” adoption.

The chip is based on IBM’s Power Architecture, and improves its power footprint by adopting a “just in time” approach to power:

In older chip design, power coursed through the processor continuously. About 10 years ago, chip designers introduced dynamic power-supply regulation in the processor block to start and stop the flow as needed, a process also called “clock gating.” But P.A. Semi gets more granular, clock gating not at the block level, but at the registry level within a block.

Even if something like this isn’t appropriate for the primary compute engine in a supercomputer, there is plenty of other support processing that needs to get done in these machines that could possibly be served by these processors.

See Computerworld for the full article.