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Thermal Challenges in High Performance Computing Systems

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This paper provides an overview of the thermal and power challenges in emerging high performance computing platforms. The advent of new sophisticated applications in highly diverse areas such as health, education, finance, entertainment etc. is driving the platform and device requirements for future systems. The key ingredients of future platforms are vertically integrated (3D) die-stacked devices which provide the required performance characteristics with the associated form factor advantages. Two of the major challenges to the design of TSV-based (through-silicon-via) 3D stacked technologies are (i) effective thermal management and (ii) efficient power delivery mechanisms. Some of the key challenges that are articulated in this paper include hot-spot superposition and intensification in a 3D stack, design/optimization of TTSVs (Thermal Through Silicon Vias), non-uniform power loading of multi-die stacks, efficient on-chip power delivery, minimization of electrical hotspots etc.

Emerging trends in processor technology has led to the rapid development of highly advanced and powerful computers with capabilities that far surpass those of current machines. At the very centre of these high performance computers are multi-core processors which have anywhere between tens to hundreds of computational cores in the silicon. This is a phenomenal leap forward in the computational performance of the processor from those of existing products which offer approximately 4-8 cores in the silicon. This giant leap in performance is driven by a number of emerging software applications such as real-time data mining, artificial intelligence, turbulence modeling, genetic engineering etc. High performance computing, also known as Terascale Computing, has made it possible to generate, process, investigate and create large amounts of data for all kinds of diverse applications. The current paper describes the different challenges and research opportunities in the field of high performance computing.

Read the full Thermal Challenges in High Performance Computing Systems White Paper.