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How Google plans to up server power efficiency

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
By Margery Conner

Quote:
Most of the publicity in the last day or two about Google’s and Intel’s spearheading an industry initiative to increase computing power efficiency has stated that the goal is at least 90% efficiency for power supplies, but there hasn’t been much (any?) explanation of how this goal is to be met. Well, at last year’s IDF, Google Lab engineers presented their Simple Plan to increase efficiency. This is the gist of it:

Current computers and servers that descend from the original IBM PC of 1981 have power supply specifications that mandate multiple voltages: +/-12V, 5V, and 3.3V, resulting in four distinct supplies, when all you really need is one 12V supply and then sprinkle around some voltage regulator modules (VRMs) on the motherboard to create lower voltages as needed.

Google claims, and it’s easily believable, that this change increases power efficiency to 85% at virtually no cost. By using “higher-quality components,” the efficiency goes to 90%.

Google says the change is at “virtually no cost,” but I’d guess that it’s actually a cost savings. Look at the picture of a typical 4-in-1 power supply here:



…versus a single voltage power supply here (this is the 85% efficiency version):


[Source: edn Electronics Design, Strategy, News]
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post #2 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yo know, Google's Motto "Don't be evil"
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post #3 of 17
hmmmm...can we do that to our PSUs? any guide anywhere?
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post #4 of 17
I've said it before (I think ) that all we really need is a high-amp 12V rail. What would follow:

Possible 12+ phase PWM stepdown for CPU Voltage
6+ phase stepdown for RAM Voltage
...etc.

All you would need, as the article stated above, would be efficient (PWM) stepdown regulators that gets the 12v down to the voltage requested by the motherboard. Or even smarter would be to make everything except the CPU run off 12v. But I doubt that will ever happen.
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post #5 of 17
Man..google rox, always innovating.
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post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sepheroth003 View Post
Man..google rox, always innovating.
No.... Intel already mentioned this over a year ago in slide show on future projects as a method to improve efficiency. It is common knowledge that single voltage PSUs are more efficient and easier to construct. This idea has been floating around for years. The only problem is that a few hundred million machines already use the multi-rail design. It would be too costly to force all thousands of PC companies to change. Google is not being innovative here. It however is one being an early adopter the new design. Since they are large enough, it makes it feasible for companies to design these specialized components for them.
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post #7 of 17
You wouldn't lose efficiency in the stepdown process?
    
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post #8 of 17
^ nothing is ever 100% efficient.

using the 12v and stepping down is MORE efficient then a standard PSU.
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post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheetos316 View Post
You wouldn't lose efficiency in the stepdown process?
Some would be lost, hence the numbers of "only" 85 to 90% efficiency. However, not near as much as actually converting AC to 4 or 5 difference DC currents within the main PSU.

The beauty of the design is that since all hardware has different power requirements, that hardware-controlled stepdowns will only pull the power they need, and nothing more.
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post #10 of 17
Sounds like a good idea.
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