A Center for Sustainable Cloud Computing

Sustainable Data Centers

Novel Cooling Techniques and Thermal-Aware Design

and Management to Increase the Reliability of 2D/3D MPSoCs

The development of semiconductor technology has been unable to keep pace with the fast-growing demand for computer power. The result of this mismatch is energy inefficiency and increasing heat density in computing servers. About a third of the energy intake is frittered away in the cooling process. Considering today’s complex many-core designs, which require maximum performance, the system is subjected to high operating temperatures. This challenge inhibits scaling of technology. Therefore, it is critical to introduce a better temperature management system that can improve the overall energy efficiency.

To address this concern, we propose the COMPUSAPIEN model, which seeks to revolutionize the current computing server architecture. Inspired by the mammalian brain, this proposal aims to develop a disruptive three-dimensional (3D) computing server architecture that overcomes the prevailing worst-case power and cooling provisioning paradigm for servers. This new 3D server design champions a heterogeneous many-core architecture template with an integrated on-chip microfluidic fuel cell network for joint cooling delivery and power supply. The microfluidic channels, which are barely 50-100 microns high, have a two-pronged objective: the fluid flowing through them cools the system, while the small fuel cells housed in the channels convert heat into electrical energy. It is proposed to reintroduce this energy in the server system, thus augmenting energy utilization and cutting the energy bill for data centers. In our proposal, the novel predictive controller based on holistic power-temperature models exploits the server software stack to achieve energy-scalable computing capabilities.

From the standpoint of its integrated electronic-electrochemical architecture design, COMPUSAPIEN is clearly a high-risk, high-reward proposal that aims to result in drastic energy savings compared to current server design approaches. To guarantee energy scalability in future server architectures, COMPUSAPIEN will develop and integrate breakthrough innovations in heterogeneous computing architectures, cooling-power subsystem design, combined microfluidic power delivery and temperature management in computers.

The COMPUSAPIEN idea has already been tested successfully in the real world. Working with Bruno Michel at IBM Zurich, we demonstrated how 6 watts of electricity (and probably even more) could be produced by implementing the microfluidic technology on a traditional IBM server.

Suggested Reading

https://www.epfl.ch/labs/esl/research/2d-3d-system-on-chip/novel-cooling-techniques-2d-3d-mpsocs/
https://ecocloud.ch/project/compusapien/