“This is an ambitious, cross-organizational approach to problem solving. The life cycle product footprint for carbon emissions reduction is demonstrable. AMD demonstrated real world advancements in this space.”
–Environmental Leader Product & Project Awards judge
AMD develops microprocessors, the “brains” of computing devices, with a focus on designing ones that offer more performance while minimizing energy use. Recognizing the pervasive energy constraints of computing, the company announced an ambitious target in 2014 to improve the energy efficiency of its advanced processing units (APUs) 25-fold by 2020. The initiative challenged AMD to develop innovative technologies that could dramatically boost energy efficiency.
The 25×20 Energy Efficiency Initiative focuses cross-functional engineering resources across multiple entities and levels of AMD on the goal. It requires the development of new processor
architectures, power efficient technologies, and power management techniques. The commitment was initially obtained at the executive level including approval from the CEO, and the CTO provided priorities to the different functions. Coordination is required on software, silicon design, architecture, and platform/silicon bring up activities.
Having such an ambitious goal rallied the AMD teams. While microprocessor design is very complex, AMD’s executives and engineers drove a focused and diligent effort to develop greater energy efficiency into next generation products. The effort was coordinated with teams across AMD including R&D and major business units. Cross-functional project teams identified opportunities for improvement, analyzed their feasibility, and integrated the most promising enhancements into AMD designs. The final designs are subjected to rigorous validation tests and additional design revisions before production.
In 2015, AMD introduced its 6th Generation A-Series APU, codenamed “Carrizo,” which achieved a 2.4-fold improvement in energy efficiency compared to the prior generation, and put the company ahead of pace for achieving the 2020 goal. When the project goal is reached, PCs will be able to accomplish a task in one fifth of the time as today’s products while consuming on average less than one fifth the power.
Using an automotive analogy, the 25×20 goal would be like turning a 100-horsepower car that gets 30 miles per gallon into a 500-horsepower car that gets 150 miles per gallon within six years. With efficiency gains from manufacturing improvements forecast by Moore’s law waning, AMD design teams need to dramatically boost energy efficiency through other methods such as improved architecture and power management.
The engineers succeeded in outperforming the gains predicted by Moore’s Law, and AMD’s 25×20 goal will outpace the historical energy efficiency improvement trend from 2000 to 2014 by at least 70%. The project is kept on track through regularly reporting on progress to the company’s executive team as well as communicating progress publicly.
Making microprocessor development more energy efficient reduces greenhouse gas emissions. AMD says its carbon footprint analysis of the Carrizo processor demonstrated that users upgrading from the previous generation processor can expect a 50% decrease in carbon emissions from computing. When scaled to an enterprise refresh of 100,000 notebook computers, the company says the savings amount to 4.9 million kilowatt-hours and 3,350 metric tons of greenhouse gases equal to powering 461 U.S. homes for a year.