From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Slashdot (Power Capping) and What Ubuntu is Doing

I just read this article, referenced by Slashdot: Power Capping the Data Center.

And I thought I'd borrow this video (one of my favorites) from IBM:

I think that we in the Ubuntu Server Community are leading the charge in developing an energy-efficient server class Linux distribution.

It is my hope that by the 10.04 LTS release, the Ubuntu Server is widely recognized as the de facto Green Computing Server Platform.

I would like to highlight a few of the key ways we have improved the energy efficiency of the Ubuntu Server in 9.04.

  • suspend/hibernate/resume
    • In Jaunty, we added pm-utils to the Server seed, and proved that Ubuntu Servers could suspend and hibernate, and be resumed remotely (requires support in the system's BIOS).
  • cpu frequency scaling
    • We also enabled cpu frequency scaling on the Ubuntu Server, defaulting to the on-demand governor. This ensures that Ubuntu Servers run at minimum cpu frequency and power consumption when under-utilized.
  • pwrkap
    • pwrkap is an open source project from the IBM Linux Technology Center which provides an energy use monitor and power capping enforcement tools (just what the Slashdot article is discussing!). We partnered with the LTC, working with Darrick Wong, to deliver this technology as a package in Ubuntu Universe.
  • powerman
    • powerman is another new package in Jaunty. Here, we worked with Arnaud Quette of Eaton to provide in Ubuntu a tool for manipulating Power Distribution Units (PDUs) from a central location--useful for remote operation in data centers and cluster computing.
  • Eucalyptus, EC2
    • Finally, we embarked on a tremendous effort to make the Ubuntu Server a better host and client in virtual and cloud computing environments. Cloud, grid, and utility computing, in a generic sense, provide far more scalable resources at the data center level. And being able to move computing efforts between your data center and someone else's (such as Amazon) also provides some interesting options on the power savings front.

These efforts continue in the development of Karmic 9.10.

9.10 (in progress)
  • powernap
    • PowerNap is a new free software project from Canonical that acts as sort of a "screen saver" for servers. Ubuntu Servers running PowerNap can be configured to take a specific action (like suspending, or hibernating, or powering off) when deemed inactive (no keyboard mouse activity, and none of some list of processes running).
  • powerwake
    • PowerWake is part of the PowerNap project, and provides a command line interface for remotely resuming power napping systems.
  • Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud powered by Eucalyptus
    • Eucalyptus has been enhanced to leverage PowerNap and PowerWake, to maintain a far more energy efficient cloud. Eucalyptus uses PowerNap to suspend, hibernate, or power-off nodes that are not currently running any virtual machines. New VM requests are served from the available capacity of running systems. Eucalyptus will PowerWake sleeping systems only if load requires. With PowerNap, data centers will finally realize the energy savings promised by cloud computing.
  • Condor
    • We are working on packaging Condor for Karmic. Condor is a system that "scavenges" otherwise unused computing cycles, leveraging them for a higher purpose. Think "protein folding" or "SETI@home", except in your data center, for your grid-capable applications. As such, Condor is less about saving power, but more about increasing utilization and efficiency or your computing resources. You could perhaps choose to PowerNap your under utilized hardware and save energy, or instead Condor your systems and task them to other work.
  • mpich2
    • We have also synchronized the mpich2 package from Debian, thanks to some excellent work from a few Debian developers. mpich2 is an extremely important library for high performance, grid computing applications. Whereas Condor is intended for general purpose grid computing, mpich2 is used by developers and users of very specific applications. Like Condor, mpich2 is also about using available computing resources as efficiently as possible.
So what's next? I certainly hope to continue working on energy efficiency in the Ubuntu Server. I have a few ideas about what we could do in 10.04.

10.04 (future)
  • Low Power Architectures
    • I have blogged a couple of times now (here, and here), about running the Ubuntu Server on Dell Mini's. These systems have Intel Atom processors, and run the lpia architecture. I would like to see us work more on this, and perhaps partner with the vendors on an Ubuntu Server product for these architectures.
    • Beyond that, ARM is a fascinating architecture, and will have a tremendous effect on the way we think about computing power. ARM based servers, with solid-state disks will soon run on fractions of a watt of power. Some people are excited about laptops that might have 24 hours of battery. I'm excited about Servers that have a 24 hour built-in battery backup, consume 1% of the power of their predecessors, and can fit in nooks and crannies in every room of your house.