Brad Ellison, a veteran data center executive at Intel, has begun a series of blog posts examining the “hot topic” of power and cooling issues in data centers. Intel’s perspective on the issue will be of interest, as data center professionals are increasingly focused on efficiency improvements at the chip level as being critical to serious progress on high-density hot spots. Ellison begins by noting the criticism of Intel’s efforts thus far:
In the press and at many conferences that I have attended, the collective finger is often pointed at Intel and the processors that we design and manufacture. Our competitors have been quick to seize on this opening and use it to gain market share. Granted, we (the collective we of Intel) have been slow to acknowledge the need for low power consumption designs. As recently as a year ago, there was ongoing debate within Intel’s design engineering community regarding the priority for and value of low power designs vs. “the need for speed” (there may still become pockets of resistance here). But I would argue that Intel is not the culprit here. It is an industry wide information technology issue!
Ellison notes that Intel’s latest designs “have clearly comprehended the fundamental marketplace shift requiring lower power consumption with high performance.”
I think Intel’s critics are fully aware that processor energy efficiency isn’t the sole cause of the power and cooling challenges. The chief question has been whether Intel would be part of the problem or part of the solution. The admission that the company has been slow to respond to the crisis is a good place to start the discussion. Ellison says upcoming blogs will examine current approaches to heat loads and broader implications of the problem. Let’s hope these provide some insight into whether the “pockets of resistance” have been fully overcome.