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Millicomputing: The Future in Your Pocket and Your Datacenter
The fastest-moving part of the computer industry is now the compute power and storage capacity of the computers we carry in our pockets. The software we carry in our pockets is also migrating to a full-featured, flexible, and openly programmable operating system. This talk discusses the multicore graphical supercomputer for 2010, which won't burn your leg if you put it in your pocket, and the implications of these changes for both the personal computing space and the enterprise computing/green datacenter space. A millicomputer doesn't need heat-sinks or fans.
The kind of power and storage provided by iPhone-class systems will increase by a factor of four to eight times over the next two years. The component maker roadmaps also show the addition of high-performance 3D graphics, video stream processors, and several GFLOPS of floating-point number crunching within the same 250 milliwatt power budget as today's millicomputer CPUs.
The power envelope of Intel's 64-bit PC-class CPUs is on a collision course with mobile devices over the next few years. Intel is working down into this space to compete with the ARM-based CPUs which currently dominate battery-powered pocket devices.
Each new wave of computing has liberated its users and become more pervasive. In recent history the desktop PC and phone tied to a wired network have been replaced by the wireless laptop and mobile phone. In the next wave, the boundaries between laptop and phone will blur. They will be capable of running the same operating systems and applications and will talk to the same networks. Everyone will be online all the time. How will our lifestyle change? What are the new applications? What is ambient presence?
Datacenter power consumption is a hot topic. By leveraging CPU designs from the world of battery-powered devices and flash-memory-based storage, we can make very cool systems. A single millicomputer draws less than one watt, and enterprise millicomputer arrays provide large numbers of small computing units at a total cost, performance, and power consumption that redefine the limits of what is possible. These systems are being specified as open source hardware by their end users. This talk covers the roadmap of architecture and performance characteristics of millicomputers over the next two years.
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