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SF Gate: Chipmakers Face Power Struggles; Energy Crunch Boosts Mainframe Appeal

Feb 07, 2001, 15:01 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Henry Norr)

[ Thanks to George Mitchell for this link. ]

"Rolling blackouts and rising rates aren't the only power problems confronting Intel and other Silicon Valley microprocessor-makers. Longer term, they also face a very different kind of electrical challenge: curbing their products' thirst for juice. Instead of focusing only on how many MIPS -- millions of instructions per second -- a chip design can deliver, chip manufacturers will have to give new weight to a variable that encompasses power as well as performance, the MIPS/watt ratio -- a metric that until now has been of interest mainly to designers of the special-purpose chips known as "embedded" processors."

"Ryno Technology, a Benicia systems-integration company that specializes in helping large organizations switch from conventional PCs to simpler, cheaper "thin clients," recently put out a press release focused on the energy savings such terminals offer. ... Along with the terminal, the energy crunch could give a new lease on life to the mainframe. IBM, for example, is touting its new Z900 mainframe, successor to the venerable S/390, as an energy saver."

"To back up its claims, IBM steered me to David Boyes of Sine Nomine Associates, a networking systems consultancy in Ashburn, Va. Boyes recently helped a major East Coast telecommunications company install a new S/390, which can host up to 41,400 separate "virtual servers" running Linux. Before settling on the mainframe, Boyes and his customer considered using big Sun Microsystems servers instead, but they figured they would have needed about 750 of them, filling more than eight times as much expensive data-center space, to get equivalent computing power."

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