Performance directed energy management for main memory and disks

Xiaodong Li, Zhenmin Li, Francis David, Pin Zhou, Yuanyuan Zhou, Sarita Adve, Sanjeev Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Much research has been conducted on energy management for memory and disks. Most studies use control algorithms that dynamically transition devices to low power modes after they are idle for a certain threshold period of time. The control algorithms used in the past have two major limitations. First, they require painstaking, application-dependent manual tuning of their thresholds to achieve energy savings without significantly degrading performance. Second, they do not provide performance guarantees. In one case, they slowed down an application by 835%! This paper addresses these two limitations for both memory and disks, making memory/disk energy-saving schemes practical enough to use in real systems. Specifically, we make three contributions: (1) We propose a technique that provides a performance guarantee for control algorithms. We show that our method works well for all tested cases, even with previously proposed algorithms that are not performance-aware. (2) We propose a new control algorithm, Performance-directed Dynamic (PD), that dynamically adjusts its thresholds periodically, based on available slack and recent workload characteristics. For memory, PD consumes the least energy, when compared to previous hand-tuned algorithms combined with a performance guarantee. However, for disks, PD is too complex and its self-tuning is unable to beat previous hand-tuned algorithms. (3) To improve on PD, we propose a simple, optimization-based, threshold-free control algorithm, Performance-directed Static (PS). PS periodically assigns a static configuration by solving an optimization problem that incorporates information about the available slack and recent traffic variability to different chips/disks. We find that PS is the best or close to the best across all performance-guaranteed disk algorithms, including hand-tuned versions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-283
Number of pages13
JournalOperating Systems Review (ACM)
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2004


  • Adaptation algorithms
  • Control algorithms
  • Low power design
  • Memory and disk energy management
  • Multiple power mode device

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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