Advertisement

Blog

SoCs Fuel the Cloud

Systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) are being taken to the cloud. Just as microprocessors drove the PC boom 20 years ago and the Internet drove the communications boom 10 years ago, SoCs are revolutionizing consumer electronics today. Each boom brought us new applications, rapid declines in product costs, and many more users. Microprocessors drove computer volumes in the millions, but complex SoCs are driving consumer products in the billions.

What is driving SoC complexity? {complink 5107|Sonics Inc.} CEO Grant Pierce focused on that question in his talk May 16 at the {complink 7526|Semico Research Corp.} Impact Conference. As we all know, today's consumers want higher quality at lower prices. They want video, voice, data, and audio in everything. All this convergence pushes the need for multi-GHz performance.

Apps run on everything, and apps need “Gigas,” whether that means a 1-3GHz multicore CPU, a 100-plus-GFLOPS multicore GPU, or a 15-50GB/sec DRAM chip. As we use more apps, we will continue to need even more Gigas. But all these Gigas burn more and more power. That is why our devices die so quickly. These SoCs have gotten so powerful that today's batteries can't afford to power them all at once.

And now we've come to what is driving SoC complexity. By using subsystems, we can power only those sections of the SoC that are in use while the other subsystems remain dark. This is cloud-scale power management. It allows designers to keep SoCs dark more frequently with hardware-controlled shutdown and automatic wakeup. Cloud-scale management lowers a SoC's power use by 50 percent.

Ultimately, SoC complexity leads to improved battery life for those mobile devices using more and more Gigas.

11 comments on “SoCs Fuel the Cloud

  1. Nemos
    May 23, 2012

    I understand very well the SoC complexity, but I am a bit confused with the Cloud term can you clear this part please. How  SoC affects the cloud computing?

  2. elctrnx_lyf
    May 23, 2012

    Is the cloud in soc just means management of power to different subsystems in soc through some innovative design?

  3. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 24, 2012

    The Socs and Cloud computing are two separate worlds. 

     

    Why the term “Cloud” has been used for power management features of Socs is not clear. This is the first time I am coming across the usage of this term in the power management context.

    Cloud generally refers to a virtual pool of resources that can be tapprd  from a networked client.

    Can the author clarify?

  4. Michell Prunty
    May 24, 2012

    I believe what Susan means is that as our private devices rely more and more on apps and cloud-based functions, the SoCs needed to process all the data are becoming more powerful, therefore the ability to power those SoCs is directly related to the cloud. 

    During the Semico Impact conference, the CEO of Sonics mentioned this quite a bit.

  5. stochastic excursion
    May 24, 2012

    SoC's sound like a more dedicated and standardized version of ASIC's and programmable gate arrays.  I'd like to learn more about the feature set and if there is a single design or multiple tiers.

  6. Cryptoman
    May 24, 2012

    SoC devices offer much more than just simple power management. Turning on and off the parts of a system is not new. This is not something specific to SoCs at all. You can already do this by wiring an FPGA to multiple microcontroller units (MCUs) in a system. as a matter of fact, you can even implement an effective power management system by using an MCU as all MCUs already offer internal power management and sleep circuitry (such as standby, deep sleep and hibernation).

    Basically, a SoC allows you to put all components of a working circuit on a PCB to a single chip. The true advantages of a SoC are as follows:

    1 – Offers external interfaces such as USB, FireWire, Ethernet, USART and SPI.

    2 – Offers onboard analog-digital and digital-analog converters.

    3 – Offers selection of mixed memory types including flash, RAM and EEPROM.

    4 – Has lower cost per gate.

    5 – Has lower power consumption.

    6 – Offers faster circuit operation.

    7 – Offers more reliable implementation.

    8 – Comes in smaller physical size.

    9 – Offers greater design security.

    Items 5, 6 and 8 are the key reasons why SoCs are preferred in portable devices.

    I am also not sure why cloud computing is directly linked to SoCs in this article. If it is for highlighling the portability aspects of cloud computing then I can see the link. However, this has not been explicitly stated.

     

  7. Susan Cadel
    May 24, 2012

    Increasing traffic flow and increasing demand for more services and features for cloud computing is driving more complex SoCs that can deliver this – both in the client device and in the communications infrastructure.  Of course this increasing complexity translates into more transistors which operate faster.  This generates higher power consumption which has to be managed.  Using the sub-system methodology and intelligent power management of these subsystems SoCs are developed which can deliver the performance within an acceptable power envelope.  Without these SoC's there will be bottlenecks in accessing the cloud.  Yes it can be managed with separate devices but by using SoC subsystems your solution is faster, cheaper and used less power. Thus, these new SoC's will enable further growth of cloud computing.

  8. Susan Cadel
    May 24, 2012

    Increasing traffic flow and increasing demand for more services and features for cloud computing is driving more complex SoCs that can deliver this – both in the client device and in the communications infrastructure.  Of course this increasing complexity translates into more transistors which operate faster.  This generates higher power consumption which has to be managed.  Using the sub-system methodology and intelligent power management of these subsystems SoCs are developed which can deliver the performance within an acceptable power envelope.  Without these SoC's there will be bottlenecks in accessing the cloud.  Yes it can be managed with separate devices but by using SoC subsystems your solution is faster, cheaper and used less power. Thus, these new SoC's will enable further growth of cloud computing.

  9. Jack Br
    May 24, 2012

    For clarification, the mobile personal devices we carry are recognized as cloud-connected devices. Today's internet infrastructure provides connectivity, computing, applications, services, commerce and content – all on demand via the cloud. Building out the Internet Of Things (IOT), a few billion connected sensors and controllers are also connected to the cloud with future projections as high as a trillion devices by 2025.

    No matter the role, the devices connected to the cloud, whether in personal mobile devices, in the cloud infrastructure or in the IOT devices have a set of attributes that include compelling user experience that challenges conventional  SoCs to meet the performance, power and cost necessary for market success. W e call these Cloud-scale SoCs for Cloud-connected devices.

    The most demanding cloud-scale SoCs share a few common requirements:
    – Lots of performance required from heterogeneous multicore solutions, many running above 1 GHz or delivering Gflops/Sec. Typical user challenges include scaling to multiple clusters of multicore processing subsystems that take advantage of emerging multi-channel DRAM systems.
    F ull SoC throughput at full speed is required to keep the processing systems fed from shared memory. S ince the CPU's, GPU's and accelerators all communicate via shared DRAM, it is essential to deliver both full throughput but also differentiated service for differing application scenarios.
    – Unlimited power partitioning – the number of power and clock domains is increasing, and more efficient use of subsystems in differing applications scenarios, create the opportunity for more extensive use of “Dark Silicon,” where power is gated off for unused subsystems, further reducing leakage.  more extensive power management techniques offer the opportunity to decrease SoC power on the order of 50% from today's results.

    I hope this clarifies what Sonics' CEO Grant Pierce presented 16 May at the Semico Impact Conference.

    Jack Browne, Sr VP marketing

     

  10. Houngbo_Hospice
    May 29, 2012

    “Cloud-scale management lowers a SoC's power use by 50 percent.”

    50 percent is an impressive improvement. However as more and more complexity is adding to electronic devices, we might even need a better hardware power management technique. I think that much effort should be oriented toward building better batteries.

  11. t.alex
    May 30, 2012

    I think complex SoC make it possible for mobile devices to easily have access to internet. Users can go online at ease and hence this fuels cloud computing. 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.