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U Illinois Research Reduces Serial Link Power Consumption

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have designed technology that can help reduce the power consumption of microprocessor serial links in data centers.

According to information from Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC), "serial links consume about 20 percent of microprocessor power and constitute about 7 percent of overall energy consumption in a data center," even though they are typically idle about 50 to 70 percent of the time. "These serial links are only sporadically used, such as when there is a request to access a Web page or a miss in the last level of cache."

The researchers designed a 7-gigabit per second (Gbps) transceiver that uses an on/off embedded clock architecture to significantly reduce the power consumption of microprocessor serial links. Previous technology reported power-on lock times of a couple of hundred nanoseconds in the case of memory interfaces to a few microseconds in the case of Energy Efficient Ethernet, but the transceiver technology designed by the U Illinois researchers reduced power-on lock times to less than 20 nanoseconds. They demonstrated the technology on 90 and 65 nanometer nodes, but according to SRC, it can also apply to memory and networking applications.

The researchers estimate that North American data centers could save $870 a year by using this transceiver technology.

SRC sponsored the research through the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE), and the team from the University of Illinois presented their research at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) held in San Francisco, CA in February 2015.

Further information about the research can be found on the IEEE's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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