With the massive push toward cloud computing in the
enterprise, there are some considerations that hardware vendors will have to come to terms with in the long run.
Unlike the old infrastructure model
with hardware bearing the brunt of fault tolerance, the new infrastructure model places all fault tolerance concerns within
the software layer itself.
say that this is a new concept as Google has been doing exactly this for a very long time (in IT time at least.)
This accomplishes many things, but two particular benefits are
that load balancing can now be more intelligent overall, and hardware can be reduced to the absolute most commodity parts
available to cut cost.
the cloud does not need hardware to provide fault tolerance, the hardware required for a ‘cloud server’ is very
I like to think of these servers
as netbook equivalents. Bargain bin motherboards, processors, RAM and hard drives can be thrown together to make a low cost
commodity cloud server. A ‘Cloud OS’ and ‘Cloud FS’ handle the underpinnings as far as operating system
and distributed file system.
in the right fashion, the Cloud Software Layer along with the underpinning Cloud OS and Cloud FS can literally allow one of
these ‘cloud servers’ to be plugged in and auto-provision itself into the resource pool. When there is a failure
of a component or an entire cloud server, the Cloud Software Layer can notify system administrators. Replacement is as simple
as unplugging the bad server and plugging in a new one. The server will auto provision itself into the resource pool and it’s
ready to go. Management and maintenance are simplified greatly.
Looking back at the hardware that will be used to make these cloud servers, last generation
surplus parts are perfect for this type of implementation.
individual server (or node in grid terms) has modest requirements similar to that of a netbook computer. The tasks that these
servers will perform are well defined and it is the combination of hundreds or thousands of these servers that provide the
real horse power behind the cloud.
that netbooks can cost as little as $200 and I see no reason why these small cloud servers can not hit the $100 mark as they
need no LCD display or peripheral ports, they can use cheaper standard 3.5″ hard drives and need no real casing to speak
of (depending on the deployment method.)
units can even be racked in shelves of 4 units with direct DC power to each board. There would only need to be a single AC
to DC inverter per rack with UPS to ensure power is flowing to the rack as a whole. The amount of heat being created will
be far less than with a typical server, and it may even be possible to get the thermal thresholds down to the level where
a bare heat-sink (without fans) can be used for the processors. This will also drastically reduce the amount of cooling needed
in the data center.
The possibilities are literally
endless and it gets me excited just to think about this type of stuff.
course, all of this is dependent on the intelligence and robust fault tolerance built into the cloud software layer. As I
said before, Google has already done this and has been using a similar infrastructure for a long time, so it is not a pipe
It is up to the individual hardware vendors such
as Sun, HP and Dell to design and deliver a cloud server that will meed the needs of future cloud computing infrastructures.
They will also need to deliver it at a cost that reflects the level of commodity the server now represents in the data center.
Oh, one more thing. I just wanted to note that it is not written anywhere that x86 has to
be the processor architecture standard for this new breed of cloud servers.
can easily see a custom designed ARM processor fitting the bill................
GPU in the cloud: what does it mean?
A fast GPU for your iPad and instant access to huge games online
copies of Windows powered by a single server with one Kepler GPU....................
The new Kepler GPU that Nvidia recently announced has been five years in the making.
It will be at the heart of supercomputers
that will help make scientific discoveries as well as powering gaming clouds and high resolution remote computing. But why
is Kepler more than just another really powerful, really expensive GPU?
gaming: fast to play, faster to start
was just really powerful, Kepler would still be impressive.
Demonstrating a combination of fluid simulation and ray tracing, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang
pointed out that "Doing ray tracing for films takes up the vast majority of processing time – the hours and hours
that are necessary to render a frame – and with Kepler we're able to do ray tracing in real time.
are real time simulated effects that are only possible because of high performance computing only possible because were really
doing fluid simulation, light simulation. Simulation and computer graphics are merging; in a few years computer graphics will
look nothing like the easily shaded graphics we see in console games today."
create special effects like The Hulk in the new Avengers movie remotely but it's useful to review them on any machine
and lower power
Architecturally, Kepler is both faster than the previous Fermi GPU and lower power; there
are many more cores but they run at 750MHz rather than 1.3GHz.
Two GPUs on a graphics card like
the Kepler-powered GTX 690 will be able to communicate directly with each other; they can also communicate with up to 32 CPU
cores instead of just one CPU at a time, and data parallelism means the GPU can look at the results of computations and decide
what to do next instead of sending information back to the CPU and waiting for instructions.
also has a memory management unit; combined with Nvidia's hypervisor and VGX architecture, that lets Kepler be a virtual GPU
for remote access with a tool like Citrix Receiver on a tablet or Microsoft RemoteFX on a thin client – or power gaming
cloud services that Nvidia is calling GeForce Grid.
Not all of that is in the first
Kepler GPU, the Tesla K10 that's just started shipping, but all the features will be in the Tesla K20, coming in the fourth
quarter of 2012.
Services like Playcast and Gaikai will use Kepler GPUs later this year to let you play console-style
games on any device with an H.264 decoder.
That's similar to the OnLive service but Nvidia General Manager Phil Eisler says GeForce
Grid will be much more efficient to run.
Kepler powers GeForce Gridservices like Gaikai for playing console games on any H.264 capable
"With the first generation of cloud gaming that's out there, you pretty much take a
one to one ratio of one computer, one graphics card to one game, which is pretty expensive.
The new Kepler architecture is
much more power efficient; we can actually render a game in half the power.
"Plus the built in encoder means you can offload
encoding from the CPU so you can run many more games per server; you can go from what is effectively one game per server to
about eight games per server and that reduces the cost by that much and reduces power by half."
The cost of running a service will
be low enough that Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsuan Huang told TechRadar the expects the monthly price for access to mainstream games
will be the same as streaming films from Netflix. "Our goal is to be streaming at a cost level like Netflix.
In which case you'll be able to
enjoy hundres of games, thousands of games in a library for $10 a month. And for blockbuster video games the moment that it
comes out, the nanosecond it comes out, you'll be able to enjoy that for some premium charge."
Huang thinks that cable TV companies
and Internet TV providers will offer their own gaming services. "They offer different channels and instead of ABC and
CBS there would be potentially a channel that says GeForce GRID and has a whole bunch of games inside."
Kepler is going to power high resolution
remote computing for work and high performance gaming in the cloud, but what about putting it in your home PC and having your
own cloud? Huang likes the idea but he's realistic about how well it would work in practice.
"The challenge is you want
to be able to stream at a very low latency and that PC sitting in a den somewhere is literally right in front of you but we
need to stream that over the clumsy Wi-Fi in people homes so there's a lot of obstacles.
That's exactly the PC I want at home though. I want
a PC with three GTX 690s - because that's the most you can put in a PC- and put that in the basement somewhere and just stream
it to wherever our family happens to be."
One thing Nvidia isn't talking about this week is whether any of the same technology powering
Kepler is going to show up in the ARM CPU it promised to build back at CES 2011, but Project Denver is still going strong
according to Chief Scientist Bill Dally.
"It's an ARM core with performance better than you can get with cores availability
from ARM and it has substantially better energy efficiency even at this higher performance. That's all we're saying about
it now, because we don't want to tip our hand and have our competitors know what we're doing."
Huang is making his usual bold
predictions about Project Denver though; "You are going to be so happy," he promised. It doesn't sound as if they'll
be ready for the Windows RT launch though.