Wednesday, October 16, 2013

'Rack-on-Chip’ Design Proposed to Meet Traffic Demands of Global Cloud Computing

In its Global Data Cloud Index released Oct. 15, Cisco forecasts that global cloud traffic will grow 4.5-fold, a 35 percent combined annual growth rate, by 2017. Today’s data centers in which rows of servers sprawl over hundreds of thousands of square feet already consume some 30 billion watts of electricity, The New York Times reported last year. 

And this is all the more reason to rethink data center design and size so they require a lot less power and space, said two University of California, San Diego researchers in the Oct. 11 issue of the journal Science

Cloud computing is the fastest growing segment of data center traffic, approximating 1.2 zettabytes of annual traffic in 2012, according to Cisco’s annual report.  Meanwhile, overall global data center traffic will grow threefold to 7.7 zettabytes by 2017. Cisco provides a little social math to illustrate just how much data traffic we’re talking about.  

“A zettabyte is one billion terabytes. For context, 7.7 zettabytes is the equivalent to: 
  • 107 trillion hours of streaming music -- about 1.5 years of continuous music streaming for the world’s population in 2017.
  • 19 trillion hours of business web conferencing -- about 14 hours of daily web conferencing for the world’s workforce in 2017.
  • 8 trillion hours of online high-definition (HD) video streaming -- about 2.5 hours of daily streamed HD video for the world’s population in 2017.”

In their commentary, electrical engineer Yeshaiahu (Shaya) Fainman and computer scientist George Porter proposed replacing the racks and racks of servers in today’s data centers into a single chip. “These ‘rack-on-chips’ will be networked, internally and externally, with both optical circuit switching to support large flows of data and electronic packet switching to support high-priority data flows,” Fainman and Porter write. 

Fainman is professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Porter is a research scientist in the Center for Networked Systems at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. 
Graduate student Qing Gu at work in the Fainman lab. 
Their proposed solution will require several significant technology advances. The most significant are how to network all the individual processors on a single chip as well as how to network multiple rack-on-chips to each other, said Porter. “To handle Big Data processing and data-intensive applications, you've got to have an enormous amount of network bandwidth, and we're developing new technologies to deliver that bandwidth cheaper, with less power and heat, and in a smaller form-factor than existing approaches,” Porter said. Fainman’s lab has been developing several aspects of the dense integration of electronics and photonics and nanophotonic technology required to achieve this vision in collaboration with several other universities as part of the Center for Integrated Access Networks. Fainman’s lab last year built the smallest no-waste laser to date, a significant step needed to enable future computer chips with optical communications. Their breakthrough was reported in the journal Nature

Motherboard reported on Fainman and Porter’s idea for “nanoservers” this week: 

“But the meat and potatoes of Yeshaiahu Fainman and George Porter’s server-rack-on-a-chip vision is really about taking the existing framework for a server rack and recreating it at the nano-level. They say that miniaturizing all server components so that several servers can fit onto a computer chip would increase processing speed. Making circuit systems to support all these mini-components using advanced lithography is already feasible, but scientists have yet to realize nano-transceivers and circuit-switchers—the key components that transmit data. And while silicon chips are increasing being used to transmit data-carrying light waves in fiber optic networks, efficiently generating light on a silicon chip is still early in its development. The researchers offer some solutions, like including light generating nanolasers in the chip design.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

International Conferences Chooses Jacobs School Paper as Top 5 in Past 30 Years

The International Conference on Computer Design chose a paper coauthored by Dean Tullsen, a computer scientist at the Jacobs School of Engineering, and George Cai, of Intel, as one of the five mostly influential papers in the conference's 30-year history. 

"This is the sort of stuff that puts CSE and UCSD on the map," Rajesh Gupta, chair of computer science at the Jacobs School, wrote in an email announcing the honor.

The paper, "Power-Sensitive Multithreaded Architecture," published in 2000, was first to quantify the energy advantages of multithreaded architectures, which can provide significant performance gains with marginal increased power cost.  It also presented architectural optimizations which would enable a multithreaded architecture to achieve the trifecta: lower power, higher performance, and lower energy than conventional architectures.

Paper co-author and Jacobs School alum John Seng, now a professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, will present a retrospective on the paper during a special session at the conference, which takes place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 in Montreal. 

Read the abstract and full paper here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Robotic Hat Project Inspires Girls

 It’s not often you hear a room full of tween and teen-age girls discussing breadboards, LEDs and Arduino servos like they were the latest hot fashion accessories from Forever 21.

Congratuations to Jacobs School alumna Saura Naderi for making this happen. Read the full story, "Girls Hat Day' Melds Fashion and Function to Get Girls Interested in Engineering" on the Calit2 website. The video is below.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Renewable Energy Program Pushes Novel Concepts Forward

Joshua Windmiller, a postdoctoral researcher working in the lab of UC San Diego nanoengineering Professor Joseph Wang, is working on a commercially viable printed biofuel cell that could derive power from urine, sewage and other wastewater sources. The technology is designed to meet a need for field-deployable and mobile power solutions particularly for recharging the electronic devices that soldiers carry with them into the battlefield such as night vision goggles, GPS systems, and two-way radios in order to prolong deployments. This technology could lighten the load of batteries soldiers must carry with them on missions into remote areas. 

Windmiller is one one of the awardees of  four new graduate fellowships from the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at UC San Diego to pursue the commercialization of research that will increase energy efficiency and the growth of renewable energy sources. The fellowships are funded through the Southern California Clean Energy Technology Acceleration Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and in partnership with  UC San Diego Rady School of Management and San Diego State University.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jacobs Legacy Videos on YouTube

We recently posted our Jacobs Legacy videos to the Jacobs School YouTube channel.  This series of videos represents a video biography of Irwin M. Jacobs, prepared on the occasion of his 70th birthday (in 2003). More info here.