Rethinking the Architecture of Warehouse-Scale Computers: Improving Efficiency and Utilization


May 8, 2012


Jason Mars


University of Virginia


The class of datacenters coined as “warehouse scale computers” (WSCs) house large-scale data intensive web services such as websearch, maps, social networking, docs, video sharing, etc. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon spend ten to hundreds of millions to construct and operate WSCs to provide these services. Maximizing the efficiency of this class of computing reduces cost and has energy implications for a greener planet. However, WSC design and architecture remains in its relative infancy.

WSCs are built using commodity processor architectures (Intel/AMD), and software components (Linux, GCC, JVM, etc) that has been engineered and optimized for traditional computing environments and workloads, such as those you’d find in the desktop / laptop environment. However, there are many characteristics, assumptions, and requirements present in the WSC computing domain that impacts design decisions within these components. In this presentation, we rethink how WSCs are designed and architected, identify sources of inefficiency, and develop solutions to improve WSCs, with a particular focus on the interaction between the application layer, system software stack, and the underlying hardware platform.


Jason Mars

Jason Mars is a Ph.D. candidate of Computer Science at the University of Virginia. He received a B.S. degree in Computer Science from The University of Pittsburgh and a Masters of Computer Science at The University of Virgina. He has been an active researcher in the areas of compiler/runtime systems, system software, and computer architecture and has published 19 papers in these areas. He has received a number of rewards and honors for excellence in his research work. You can find out more information about Jason Mars at