Luiz Andre Barroso, one of Google's engineers, say it could soon cost more to power your server than buy it. He warns that if the performance per watt of today's computers doesn't improve, the electrical costs of running them could end up far greater than the price tag of the hardware itself.
Barroso's view is likely to go over well at Sun, which on Tuesday launched its Sun Fire T2000 server, whose 72W UltraSparc T1 Niagara processor performs more work per watt than rivals. Indeed, the "Piranha" processor Barroso helped design at DEC, which never made it to market, is similar in some ways to Niagara, including its use of eight cores on one chip.
To address the power problem, Barroso suggests the very approach Sun has taken with Niagara: processors that can simultaneously execute many instruction sequences. Typical server chips today can execute one, two or sometimes four threads, but Niagara's eight cores can execute 32 threads.
Barosso says chip multithreading is a good short-term solution, but he further adds we'll need fundamental circuit and architectural innovations to address the long-term trends.
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