It’s the big one we’ve all been waiting for. Greening of Streaming has revealed its first hyperscaler member – more than six months since first teasing that one of the big three cloud giants was sniffing around the non-profit initiative.
Microsoft is now officially on board, lending its insane scale to Greening of Streaming working groups which are striving for joined-up thinking around the engineering of more sustainable streaming technologies.
With this scale comes a web of insights into where energy demands are taking place across Microsoft’s global technology infrastructure, namely Azure cloud infrastructure. Making that kind of data readily available to Greening of Streaming members should add invaluable color to some of the ongoing data projects, and in many cases accelerate them.
Microsoft wants to educate the world about operating streaming infrastructure at scale, but the giant itself could learn a thing or two from existing Greening of Streaming members. In our experience, the bigger they come, the more resistant they are to change.
Microsoft claims to be championing change from developer to consumer, although it leaves evidence of that to your imagination. There is no indication in the announcement to which GoS working groups Microsoft plans to engage with. However, the timing could be crucial, or simply coincidental, with Greening of Streaming just two weeks ago announcing its LESS (Low Energy Sustainable Streaming) Accord.
One of the early aims of LESS is to gauge industry responses to the idea of encoding video based on energy consumption, rather than on quality. Once the pitchfork-bearing mob subsides, Greening of Streaming plans to produce some kind of palatable framework and then conduct field tests for energy-optimized encoding later this year.
We recall an interaction with Microsoft’s Simon Crownshaw, Worldwide Lead for Media and Entertainment, last year. At the time, Faultline was on the hunt for evidence of Microsoft Azure’s claims about cross-cloud collaboration involving the sharing of sustainability data.
Crownshaw explained that Microsoft has engaged with both competitors and partners as part of industry events and programs to demonstrate the power of the cloud to decarbonize workflows.
No names were mentioned, but Crownshaw did cite that increasing transparency across the industry is paramount in how Microsoft shares data and best practices.
“From a Microsoft perspective, we want to enable industry leaders at the highest level to make the right choices. We are engaged in projects across both customers and potential customers to look at how sustainability will create new business models in the future,” Crownshaw told Faultline.
We are fishing around for more up-to-date comments from Crownshaw and those Microsoft teams engaging directly with Greening of Streaming working groups, and will provide an update once Microsoft is bedded in as an official member.
The immediate downside of Microsoft’s signature is that its giant gravitational pull has drawn the spotlight almost entirely away from another new Greening of Streaming membership, with Coherent Logix joining at the same time.
We are reliably informed that Texas-based Coherent Logix has developed a novel and innovative approach to CPU architecture.
Now in its fourth-generation of HyperX Midnight software-defined SoCs, Coherent Logix has designed the technology with power efficiency top of mind, along with high-performance and upgradability.
These are described as digital neuromorphic semiconductors. Neuromorphic computing is an approach inspired by the neurons of biological brains, in that compute nodes take the structure of artificial synapses in the brain to process and store data just like neurons.
Faultline first came across the concept of neuromorphic silicon back in 2016, when it wasn’t a concept at all but the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US had just bought the first neuromorphic chip from IBM Research.
The chip was being sold as TrueNorth at the time, in a deal involving a configuration the equivalent of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses, while only consuming the energy equivalent of a tablet.
Even then, this IBM project was eight years in the making – the result of 200 collaborators working together since 2008. IBM boasted that its TrueNorth neuromorphic silicon could be installed just as easily in a smartphone as a supercomputer in the cloud, and that it planned to include these capabilities in its Watson AI program.
We waited another five years until neuromorphic silicon reappeared on our radar, not from IBC but from audio and imaging sensing technology developer DTS, part of Xperi and a sister company to TiVo. DTS announced in April 2021 what claimed to be the world’s first neuromorphic driver monitoring system, designed for gaze tracking, head pose monitoring, identification, and eyelid opening.
Circling back to Coherent Logix, the company claims to have pushed back the breakdown of Moore’s Law by over 20 years. The law states that the number of transistors on a chip doubles approximately every two years, though the cost of computers is halved.
Coherent Logix’s HyperX silicon is targeted at always-on devices. With more and more always-on devices shipping, there are concerns about the rising impact on energy consumption of the connected home. While nominal in the grand scheme of things today, it is inevitable that CPE and connected devices will account for a rising share of global greenhouse gas emissions. Coherent Logix’s HyperX processors are therefore targeted at always-on devices, which – just like the human brain – contains processing elements that only consume power when they are thinking.
HyperX processors claim to offer up to 4x the performance of competitors, while consuming just half the power.
With those kind of claims, imagine the kind of impact Microsoft could have on reducing the power consumption of its IT infrastructure and that of its partner network by taking a license with Coherent Logix. Well, it’s just as well the two companies will now be squeezed into the same room.