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Blog 9: Contemporary Paper

Paper: Mobile Processors for Energy-Efficient Web Search

DOI: 10.1145/2003690.2003693


This paper focused on the potential for using mobile processors as opposed to server-class processors, such as the Intel Xeon, for an energy-efficient solution for Web Search. The researchers in particular aim to provide a method to reduce the power consumption of search queries and computation on such servers for Microsoft Bing. The Atom is shown to be 5X more efficient in terms of energy efficiency, with a penalty of having a 3X increase in terms of average query latency, and 1-3% of query results being different. In terms of building the servers, the researcher showed that by integrating multiple Atom cores per chip, and multiplexing motherboard components, the overall Atom-based servers are capable of being 1.4-2.1 times better in terms of energy efficiency. The authors offer some mitigation opportunities as solutions to impacts of their system, focused mainly on changing hardware-level items such as cache size, and reducing branches executed on the application level.


The style of the paper was presented in a very clear format, and makes use of a lot of visuals to show performance impacts and results. The style of the paper is very formal, and assumes at least a general knowledge of server, architecture, and web technologies.


The paper is presented in a very organized fashion, presenting first the efficiency, price of efficiency (in terms of impacts on robustness of the system), how to mitigate such costs, how such an implementation affects the platform, and the effects and impact on data centers. The topic is presented in such a way that the authors tackle not only the energy-cost improvements of their proposed design, but also look at how performance is impacted on the negative side. They also address how implementation affects not only the server set-up, but also data center impacts, and how capability is increased. It is interesting to note that the authors offer a representative cost structure of problem mitigation techniques are included in the cost, and that the overall cost per server could be more than a standard Xeon server, even though energy consumption is less.


It feels a bit like the paper does a bit of hand waving for the instances that are impacted by using the Atom. They effectively provide a framework in which to test types of web applications(particularly search) on servers that could benefit in using mobile processors, but don't seem to offer any real concrete examples on the potential implications on certain types of queries or possible areas that may not be well-suited. They note that "most common" queries tend to not be as impacted, and focus primarily on the cost savings of their energy-efficient implementation. A bit of focus those that are impacted, and and by what is constituted as "common" would have helped to address these problems.


The authors offer an interesting take on using technologies addressed for different situations to provide a solution for energy-efficient web search. The Atom itself was not made particularly to handle the types of loads that a Xeon is capable of handling, however, in doing so, the authors offer an interesting manner for looking at trade-offs that can occur if data center owners want to reduce energy costs. A manner for looking at how energy-cost is impacted is provided, along with a cost and performance analysis of both implementations. As such, the authors offer one potential method researchers and industry can use to reduce the recent Green-IT and data center energy problems facing the web.

-- MichaelGonzales - 12 Nov 2011

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Topic revision: r2 - 2011-11-13 - MichaelGonzales
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