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Computer Science Colloquia

April 26, 2012
Jason Mars
Advisor: Mary Lou Soffa
Attending Faculty: Kim Hazelwood, Chair; Jack Davidson, David August, and John Lach

2:00 PM, Rice Hall, Rm. 242

Ph.D. Dissertation Presentation
Rethinking the Architecture of Warehouse-Scale Computers


The class of datacenters coined as warehouse scale computers (WSCs) house large-scale data intensive web services such as websearch, maps, social networking, docs, video sharing, etc. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon spend ten to hundreds of millions to construct and operate WSCs to provide these services. Maximizing the efficiency of this class of computing reduces cost and has energy implications for a greener planet. However, WSC design and architecture remains in its relative infancy.

WSCs are built using commodity processor architectures (Intel/AMD), and software components (Linux, GCC, JVM, etc) that has been engineered and optimized for traditional computing environments and workloads, such as those you'd find in the desktop / laptop environment. However, there are many characteristics, assumptions, and requirements present in the WSC computing domain that impacts design decisions within these components. In this presentation, we rethink how WSCs are designed and architected, identify sources of inefficiency, and develop solutions to improve WSCs, with a particular focus on the interaction between the application layer, system software stack, and the underlying hardware platform.