|The Leading Source for Global News and Information Covering the Ecosystem of High Productivity Computing / May 25, 2007|
Computer Science researchers at Virginia Tech have set their sights on determining software "hotness". In 2006, Prof. Kirk W. Cameron, director of the SCAPE Laboratory and an Associate Professor at VT, began a project to determine just how much heat software produces. Prof. Cameron and student Hari K. Pyla designed a software tool called Tempest (for Temperature Estimator) that creates a thermal profile of an application and correlates temperatures obtained from thermal sensors in the system to source code.
"Chip transistor density has doubled every year or so following Moore's Law leading to increased performance and power consumption," says Prof. Cameron who began studying power in high-performance systems in 2002. "Elaborate cooling solutions that include heat sinks, fans, and at times liquid cooling are necessary to remove the heat produced by today's advanced processors." Just how much heat? Today's processors typically consume 80 to 100 watts and quickly exceed the temperature of a hot plate.
These observations placed Cameron and SCAPE on a path to determine the thermal properties (or "hotness") of software. "We wanted to identify the effects of various power reduction strategies on processor and system thermals. Unfortunately, the thermal simulation and emulation tools available were too cumbersome to measure the combined effects of operating systems and applications across a variety of systems. So we set out to create a portable tool that would enable us to directly measure temperature and correlate the results to source code."
What they found was that code behavior significantly impacts the temperature of the devices in the system and that these effects often vary between systems of the same type. These results and others have been accepted for publication in the proceedings of the 2007 International Conference on Parallel Processing to be held in September. Despite the recognition of his peers through publication, Cameron has loftier goals for his work: "Our hope is that by releasing Tempest to the greater community, other researchers and experimentalists will apply the thermal microscope to their own systems and applications."
Source: Virginia Tech