University researchers in the United Kingdom are working on solutions to the growing problem of power consumption as mainstream processors are expected to contain hundreds of cores in the near future.
Power consumption outpaces performance gains when additional cores are added to processors so that, for example, a 16-core processor in an average smartphone would cut the maximum battery life to three hours. In addition to mobile devices, data centers crammed with server clusters face mounting energy demands due to the rising number of cloud services. Left unchecked, the power consumption issue within three processor generations will require central-processing unit (CPU) designs that use as little as 50 percent of their circuitry at one time, to restrict energy use and waste heat that would ruin the chip.
The University of Southampton is part of a group of universities and companies joining in the Power-efficient, Reliable, Many-core Embedded systems (PRiME) project to explore ways that processors, operating systems, and applications could be redesigned to enable CPUs to intelligently pair power consumption with specific applications. PRiME is studying a dynamic power management model in which processors work with the operating system kernel to shut down parts of cores or modify the CPU's clock speed and voltage based on exact application needs.
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