As the pandemic continues to reshape the way we work, energy efficiency efforts by chipmakers like AMD can bring new innovation to computing. Recently AMD announced its plans to deliver a 30x increase in energy efficiency for its EPYC CPUs in the rapidly growing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High-Performance Computing (HPC) space by 2025.
Sam Naffziger, Senior Vice President, Corporate Fellow and Product Technology Architect at AMD writes in his blog, “After achieving in 2020 the AMD 25×20 Energy Efficiency Goal for mobile processors, the company’s engineers were hungry for a new, bold challenge in processor energy efficiency to benefit customers and our world, which we have now identified.”
AMD’s Ambitious Energy Efficiency Goal
The goal focuses on accelerated compute nodes in the data center using AMD CPUs and AMD GPU Accelerators for AI training and HPC applications.
According to Naffziger, “These accelerated compute nodes are the most powerful and advanced computing systems in the world used for scientific research and large-scale supercomputer simulations. They provide the computing capability used by scientists to achieve breakthroughs across many fields including material sciences, climate predictions, genomics, drug discovery and alternative energy.
Accelerated nodes are also integral for training AI neural networks that are currently used for activities including speech recognition, language translation and expert recommendation systems, with similar promising uses over the coming decade,” he says.
The 30x goal, according to him, would save billions of kilowatt hours of electricity in 2025, reducing the power required for these systems to complete a single calculation by 97 percent over five years.
“Achieving gains in processor energy efficiency is a long-term design priority for AMD and we are now setting a new goal for modern compute nodes, using our high-performance CPUs and accelerators when applied to AI training and high-performance computing deployments,” says Mark Papermaster, executive vice president and CTO, AMD.
“Focused on these very important segments and the value proposition for leading companies to enhance their environmental stewardship, AMD’s 30x goal outpaces industry energy efficiency performance in these areas by 150 percent compared to the previous five-year time period, says he.
“With computing becoming ubiquitous from edge to core to cloud, AMD has taken a bold position on the energy efficiency of its processors, this time for the accelerated compute for AI and High-Performance Computing applications,” says Addison Snell, CEO of Intersect360 Research.
“Future gains are more difficult now as the historical advantages that come with Moore’s Law have greatly diminished. A 30-times improvement in energy efficiency in five years will be an impressive technical achievement that will demonstrate the strength of AMD technology and their emphasis on environmental sustainability.”
Increased energy efficiency for accelerated computing applications is part of the company’s new goals in Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) spanning its operations, supply chain and products. For more than twenty-five years, AMD has been transparently reporting on its environmental stewardship and performance. For its recent achievements in product energy efficiency, AMD was named to Fortune’s Change the World list in 2021 that recognizes outstanding efforts by companies to tackle society’s unmet needs.
Dr. Jonathan Koomey, President, Koomey Analytics too mentions, “The energy efficiency goal set by AMD for accelerated compute nodes used for AI training and High-Performance Computing fully reflects modern workloads, representative operating behaviors and accurate benchmarking methodology.”
Naffziger believes, AMD recognizes the growing, yet unmet need to drive durable, sustainable energy efficiency improvements in accelerated computing. This vision also expands on the company’s long-term commitment to environmental stewardship, product energy efficiency and environmental, social and governance (ESG).
In order to continue delivering the computing power our world needs, we will continue to innovate and find new approaches to bring the energy efficiency curve up while the industry sees diminishing gains from manufacturing improvements in smaller processing nodes,” he adds.
How it can benefit businesses
Needless to say, to provision large numbers of cloud desktops too, companies need a lot of processing power. And that means dealing with heat and energy requirements, with hard limits on density in already massive centralized data centers running these cloud services. Hence, cloud providers need these power efficiency improvements to optimize their space and reduce the need to expand data centers and boost data center cooling.
By using AMD’s latest power-efficient processors, they can expand into new areas like cloud desktops without having to prematurely expand their physical plants, saving millions of dollars while simultaneously reducing complexity and overhead.
With remote and hybrid work already becoming a norm, companies like Microsoft are stepping up with products like the Windows Virtual Desktop. But infrastructure needs to improve as well. Qualcomm is driving 5G into the market will certainly help, but it is AMD’s advances in energy savings, which provide for far higher technology density, that may be the missing link to make it more realistic.
In short, delivering a 30x energy efficiency increase by 2025 would support growth in some of the world’s most intensive computing needs while taking steps to mitigate the associated risk of greater energy use.