Friday, August 24, 2007

Lower Power x86 Systems

There is quite a lot of activity in the low power x86 compatible space. The latest CPU from VIA is touted as a 1W CPU, with 0.1W standby power, but when the complete chipset and RAM are added its substantially higher, more like 10W. This article in surveys the whole space very nicely.

The power trend is downwards, these chip sets are aimed at consumer devices, but not in the battery powered space. For commodity devices we can divide by the order of magnitude in power consumption and environmental conditions.

100-1000W Datacenter Server (air conditioned room)
10-100W Home PC/Laptop Space (fan cooled, on when in use, ambient room temp)
1-10W Home consumer devices (fanless, always on, ambient room temp) 
100-1000 mW Battery powered millicomputers (always on, cool enough for your pocket)

Interesting technology and product disruptions occur when we mix these spaces. In some ways, the original compute farms that Google built were leveraging the low end home PC power/price/performance point into the datacenter. There are additional opportunities to leverage home consumer devices and millicomputers into the enterprise space.

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