AMD Consolidates Data Centers With Grid Computing Architecture

This grid currently utilizes 15,000 processor cores, primarily from the Opteron family of processors. Consolidating these cores into a centralized architecture allowed AMD to increase efficiencies, said Tom Painter, corporate vice president of global infrastructure services at AMD, in a recent interview.

"We now run at 90 percent utilization of these cores. In the past, we would have grids that would be in the [60 percent range] and some would be in the [90 percent range], but it was inconsistent," Painter said.

In addition to increased hardware efficiency, the goal for AMD's grid is to leverage virtualization and cloud computing for engineering tasks. Over 3,000 engineers use the architecture to run over 40 million jobs per month, said Bob Luong, director of systems engineering at AMD.

"The workload we put inside our grid it is multi-faceted, so the workload varies a lot and the amount of resources we have in place is large," Luong said. "In consolidating our environment one of the key things is bringing the engineer to the data instead of data to the engineers."

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Centralizing data allowed AMD to reduce the start-up time required for new engineering projects and minimize data redundancy. Painter said it now takes one day to create a project environment that once took AMD two weeks to create.

"With this technology we've been able to leverage engineers pretty much where ever they sit in the globe. The engineers are now able to get to the fewer, larger grids more quickly and with less redundancy," Painter added.

The grid architecture also increases flexibility, making it possible to allocate resources to the teams that need them most. Mike Wolfe, senior vice president and CIO at AMD, illustrated the point with an example of a need for short-term testing capacity from one engineering team in 2010.

"At that time they were consuming four percent of the grid but needed about 45 percent for about five days, which they said gave them about two weeks of testing time in five days. That [allocation] took place overnight," Wolfe said.

The Opteron processors powering most of AMD's grid support in-place upgrades within socket generations. The ability to swap out processors without replacing additional hardware has saved AMD millions of dollars, according to Wolfe.

Wolfe summarized the benefits of the grid in terms of efficiency and flexibility. "The way we look at our grid is that we built an infrastructure that is highly scalable. It's extremely flexible and it has allowed us to reduce our storage cost," he said.