Power Profiles for Microprocessors

Detailed power profiles of processors with different software and chip architectures could help software designers optimize for power consumption.

According to a news report released by the University of Texas at Austin and the Australian National University, computer scientists have conducted the first systematic power profiles of microprocessors. The report states that these power consumption profiles could help lower the energy consumption of both small cell phones and giant data centers.

In the report, Kathryn McKinley, professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin says, “For companies like Google and Microsoft, which run these enormous data centers, there is a big incentive to find ways to be more power efficient. More and more of the money they’re spending isn’t going toward buying the hardware, but toward the power the datacenters draw.”

McKinley says that without detailed power profiles of how microprocessors function with different software and different chip architectures, companies are limited in terms of how well they can optimize for energy usage. According to the report, the study, which McKinley conducted with Stephen M. Blackburn of the Australian National University and their graduate students, is the first to measure and analyze application power, performance, and energy systematically on a wide variety of hardware.

In the study’s conclusion, the researchers state: “The volume of data and results do not lend themselves to concise conclusions, but they do offer three recommendations. Manufacturers: (1) Expose on-chip power meters to the community. Researchers: (2) Use both managed and native workloads. (3) Measure power and performance to understand and optimize power, performance, and energy.”

You can read the complete news article, which contains a link to McKinley’s research paper, at: http://www.cs.utexas.edu/news-events/news/2012/toward-lowering-power-consumption-microprocessors.