Managing the power efficiency of data centers is a large issue in the chip industry as trends such as AI and self-driving cars are causing exponential increases in the amount of data.
Because of this, the amount of data formed in the past two years equaled that of around 90% of the data made throughout human history, Fadu CEO Peter Nam said at a local conference in Seoul hosted by TheElec on Tuesday.
To store this huge cache of data, data centers were consuming power at similar levels to that of countries, Nam said.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2020, data centers across the globe spent a combined 200 to 250TWh of power or 1% of worldwide use. The figure is higher than the annual power consumption of South Africa. AI, self-driving cars, and streaming services are only exasperating this.
One solution to this issue has been the improvement of the power efficiencies of semiconductors. Samsung and SK Hynix are also developing low-power memory chips to meet this demand.
Fadu was founded in 2015 and is a chip fabless company that focuses on solid-state drive (SSD) controller, a key chip that processes data read and write as well as lifespan management of SSDs.
Fadu makes controllers specifically for data centers and its customers are Big Tech, including Meta. The company recently started the development of SSD controllers for AI and streaming.
When Moore’s Law was the norm, the importance of software in improving semiconductor performances was relatively low as improvement in hardware alone delivered double performance increases every two years, Nam said.
But today, as the effects of Moore’s Law seemingly slowing down, the importance of improvement in a full stack including software was becoming important, Nam said.
Currently, six copies of data were required just for it to transfer from the storage to the network interface controller.
To improve this inefficiency, many ideas were being proposed from software to hardware, the Fadu CEO said.
Organizations such as Open Compute Project (OCP), an open-source hardware organization, which has Microsoft, Meta, Google, Intel, and Samsung as members, are discussing efficient server management through discussions of how to think hardware and software.
Nam claimed Fadu has made innovations level to that of OCP in the field. Fadu
s PCIe Gen 3 product had double the power efficiency of the competition, the CEO said, while its new product PCIe Gen 4 was similarly ahead.
Fadu, when it started to develop its SSD controller, started from scratch to substantially improve its power consumption, Nam said.