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Paper to Be Presented at IEEE ESSCIRC/ESSDERC Conference in September Warns of Unsustainable Increase in Power Use, Notes Potential Advantages for European Industry In Collaborative Response.
Until 2023, the power consumption of data centers should remain stable at around 200 TWh but, with the slowing down of scaling benefits, we could see an exponential growth in their energy consumption as early as 2024, unless new technological innovations come into play, the paper notes. This exponential increase in energy consumption would not be sustainable.
The paper also says that future significant power-use reductions will rely on improved fabrication processes, such as scaling, 3D integration and packaging, and on new computing architectures pushing new paradigms.
The entire ICT ecosystem, from microelectronics,
software and hardware designers to developers, producers, manufacturers and
integrators, is facing an immense new environmental challenge: to cope with the
data deluge and to reduce drastically the energy consumption of digital
technologies,” said Jean-René Lèquepeys, CEA-Leti’s CTO. This urgent,
forward-looking proposal is an industry-wide call to action for the benefit of
all economic sectors and society at large
The paper warns that the industry will need to exploit all the possible technological advances to meet this challenge. These include gains in resistive memories, 3D stacking and new computing paradigms, such as in-memory-computing, neuromorphic computing and quantum computing. In addition, maximizing efficiency and performance will require the R&D communities "to work closer together and embrace a real culture of co-design to optimize applications and algorithms, algorithms and Integrated Circuit (IC) architectures, IC architectures and technologies jointly"
We also propose to perform data-processing operations
as closely as possible to the source, in order to curtail the energy
consumption that comes with data transport between couputing and storage units,”
the paper says. “Finally, finding strategies to reduce the use of water and
alternatives to rare or difficult to recycle materials
is an ecological emergency. Possible conflits between countries due to minerals
scarcity are a direct threat to our industry.” adds Jean-René Lèquepeys,
Processing data close to the source, known as edge computing, is consistent with the EU's approach to limit use of cloud computing, to help ensuring data security. It also would significantly reduce energy consumption.
CEA-Leti recommends nine research tracks to manage the data deluge taking into account sustainable electronics constraints.
Building the case for pursuing greener technologies in the time of the data deluge, the paper cites IDC research that humans and computers generated more than 64 zettabytes of data in 2020, a figure that is expected to exceed 2,000 zettabytes by 2035. "This escalation results from the fact that data is increasingly generated by machines (in 2018, only 44% of the data was produced by humans). It is expected that by 2022, 90% of all the data will be generated by machines (machine-to-machine communications) and by hundreds of billions of connected objects around the world. We are also witnessing a surge in multimedia data, such as image, video, speech and music, as opposed to 'classic' digital data (text and numbers), and an increase in the resolution of videos and pictures ", and the appearance of 3D imaging.
"6G networks will have to address the need for greater performance but not at any price" adds Jean-René Lèquepeys. Ealier this year, CEA-Leti has launched the NEW-6G initiative across the UE telecom and semiconductor community to lay the groundwork for future 6G wireless networks, while meeting societal expectations and sustainability requirements.
The paper also says the industry must address the three stages of the data processing chain – data transmission to processing, data analysis and exploitation and data storage and processing – while ensuring systems are secure and resistant to attacks and protect personal and corporate data in compliance with Europe's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.