Memset Improves VM Energy Efficiency ‘Faster Than Moore’s Law’

Kate Craig Wood...MD...Memset.

UK cloud provider more than doubles energy efficiency in two years

UK cloud provider Memset says that it has been able to substantially reduce the average power consumption of its Miniserver VM virtual servers at a rate that is faster than Moore’s Law.

Moore’s Law is an observation that the density of transistors tends to double every two years, which has held true since Intel’s Gordon Moore suggested it more than 50 years ago. Memset’s research suggests that, thanks to virtualisation, processing ability per Watt of electrical power is on the same track – but careful specification of virtual machines can improve on the figure.

Moore’s Law

Memset’s resarch research, conducted with the University of Surrey examined the load levels and power consumption of MiniServer virtual machines (VMs) that were running for three months. The Miniserver VMs are rented out to businesses for short time scales and Memset has been fine tuning and refining the hardware to optimise it according to the demands of its clients.

As a result the team has reduced the average power consumption from 26 watts (for a (1 x 0.7GHz Xeon core with 1GB RAM, 80GB RAID1 HDD) in mid-2009 to 4.7 watts by the end of 2011.

Although Moore’s Law specifically applies to the doubling of transistor density every 24 months, Memset says that the principle is a useful measurement for energy efficiency. Even using a more aggressive figure of doubling efficiency every 18 months, Memset’s VMs should be using 6.9 watts or 47 percent more than current power consumption. The company says that a modern dedicated server with four times the capacity would use at least 70 watts, further justifying its approach.

IT leading the way

“ICT has been highlighted by both the Global e-sustainability’s SMART 2020 report and the World Wildlife Fund in their ‘Saving the first billion tonnes’ report as vital to the transition to a low-carbon society through approaches like dematerialisation and intelligent resource management,” commented Kate Craig-Wood, managing director of Memset. “However, many people are concerned that we will be trading one carbon source for another.”

“I hope that this research and the future projects I am personally leading at Memset in collaboration with Surrey University will help put those fears to rest,” she added. “ICT really can deliver its promises of a greener society without itself becoming a major indirect source of greenhouse emissions.”

Moore’s Law itself is expected to end by 2014 as the cost of making increasingly smaller chips becomes too expensive, leading to a number of proposals to help extend its lifespan. The American Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently announced an initiative aimed at finding a way of extending the law.

In January, IBM claimed that it had managed to store information in as few as 12 atoms and that it was 100 times denser than current hard disk drives and solid state memory chips, strengthening the consensus that Moore’s Law was nearing its expiration.

How well do you know the cloud? Take our quiz