Intel CTO Justin Rattner's gone mad for mega-centers. In Rattner's mega-center, he envisages several shifts. From installed services to streamed services, from local storage to distributed storage, from individual management to central management and from stateful to stateless.
With Internet content growing ever richer and web apps seemingly the way forward (some of the time), the demands on data centers is growing. Data centers need to be reliable, scalable, secure and cost effective. A large part of cost effectiveness is power consumption.
One of the biggest power efficiency problems isn't the juice guzzling components, but the devices providing power to them. In a low end PC or server, the PSU is likely to be 50-70% efficient. So out of all the separate components in the PC, the PSU could actually be consuming the most power. Rattner wants to move from the traditional multi-rail PSU design to models with single 12V rails, with 90% efficiency.
Power efficiency problems extend further than the PSU, however. In the datacenter there's lots of AC/DC conversion going on and lots of stages to the power delivery process that aren't really necessary.
Right now there might be AC fed into a UPS, which converts it to DC for the battery, but converts it back to AC for distribution. Then the high voltage AC is stepped down. Finally the AC is once again converted to DC in the PSUs of devices in racks.
In a simplified 'mega-center' power distribution system, high voltage AC is converted to high voltage DC in the UPS. That same voltage is then distribution around the center unmolested until it is DC-DC converted in device PSUs. Much simpler and more efficient by virtue of power being distributed in DC form.
Apparently an increasing number of security breaches are occurring internally rather than coming from external sources. Changes to security models can help this.
Currently, IPSec encrypts and secures data between endpoints. However, Intel would like to see a shift towards also using LinkSec; providing security between every individual link that data traverses. With every link secured, the job of the hacker should be harder.
Once again Tera-scale computing gets a mention. Teraflops of performance, terabytes of data being processed and communication occurring at terabit data rates. Tonnes of cores on a chip and stacked memory giving massive amounts (256MiB, say) of RAM accessible to each core, directly on the chip.
Get a bit more info on Tera-scale in our earlier article.
Powerful, efficient, secure
Given that power efficiency in processors and other components is a higher priority than it was a few years ago, it stands to reason that power distribution and supply systems within the datacenter should toe the line and shape up. How much is all this going to cost, though?