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Faster Searches Key to a Greener Web

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University of Glasgow researchers created a system using field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to search a document index 20 times faster than a system based on standard processors. The researchers plan to develop the system for use in Web servers to speed up Internet searches, which they say would reduce the Internet's energy consumption and carbon cost.

Estimates for the amount of carbon dioxide generated by a single Internet search request range from 0.2g per search, according to Google, to 7g per search, according to Harvard University physicist Alex Wisser-Gross. "Few people stop to think about the carbon costs of their computing," says project researcher Wim Vanderbauwhede. "By making Internet searches faster, servers will use less energy to produce results, even if the power consumption of the actual equipment is the same because they will use that energy for a fraction of the time."

The researchers found that a system of two Xilinx FPGAs running the information retrieval and filtering algorithms for a document database were 20 times faster in returning results than a dual-core Intel Itanium-2 processor, and consumed only 1.25 watts each compared to the 130 watts consumed by the Itanium processor. The researchers plan to improve the performance of the current prototype and test it in a data center environment.

From University of Glasgow (United Kingdom)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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