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Moore’s Law Decline: opportunity knocks for the data centre sector

Rich Kenny | Oct. 25, 2022, 8:47 a.m.

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In 2020, we published a ground-breaking paper in the IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing, one of the largest peer reviewed journals in the sector, called “Optimizing Server Refresh Cycles: The Case for Circular Economy With an Aging Moore's Law”. Recognising the decline in Moore’s Law, it put forward the case for optimising server estates at machine level by benchmarking new and older generation servers.

Our research disproved the received wisdom that replacing servers with the latest generation of equipment resulted in a doubling of efficiency. We have spent the last two years advocating for change throughout the data centre sector – and publicising our research through keynote speeches at Net Zero events, tech summits and international conferences.

We assumed our cutting-edge research would have woken up the IT and Data Community to the opportunities available in terms of how IT equipment was purchased, configured and optimised. We were wrong.

Data centres are still locked into the doctrine that servers should be replaced with new machines every few years to improve efficiency, a theory which we have proved is no longer valid. The sector as a whole still relies on PUE to measure efficiency, rather than looking at energy efficiency of the server estate itself.

Missing a trick

Today, in the face of mounting evidence, it is recognised throughout the IT community that Moore’s Law is in decline. For several years, the chip manufacturer AMD and tech giants Google and NVIDIA have both internally accepted the decline in Moore’s Law. As a result, these tech businesses have been redesigning hardware and application loads for some time. Our MD Rich Kenny has published an article in the DCA about how the processor landscape has changed. To summarise, both AMD and Google have accepted the slowdown in Moore’s Law and redesigned their chip architecture accordingly to increase server performance and efficiency.

You can read the full article here.

The future for enterprise data centres

Conversely, the data centre sector has been much slower to wake up to this trend, relying on replacing servers every few years with new and focusing on PUE /building infrastructure to increase energy efficiency. We think they are missing a trick. There are huge monetary, energy and carbon-saving opportunities to be had if data centres take a more detailed approach to efficiency and an evolved approach to server architecture that assesses workload, configuration and performance as one.

As chip manufacturers drive forward their hardware efficiencies, data centres need to wake up to the fact that the old ways are no longer valid and that the future lies in accurately measuring the efficiency of their servers and reconfiguring machines, as well as taking advantage of the cost and environmental advantages of replacing with refurbished machines.

Our research-led software allows this granular analysis of the server estates, resulting in insight-driven reports that enable transformative benefits to the business.

The impact on the bottom line of accepting the decline in Moore’s Law: of responding to the changing processor landscape and undertaking this energy efficiency analysis are huge. At the same time, the decrease in e-waste and use of depleted resources of rare materials used in the production of new servers is massive and environmentally advantageous.