Computer Programming to Curb Power

07/05/2011 |

Slight tweaks to a computer’s code can reduce the system’s energy consumption, according to findings by University of Washington researchers

When it comes to cutting your facility's computer energy consumption, you may not have to look much further than a computer programmer.

A University of Washington (UW) project sees a role for programmers to reduce the energy appetite of the ones and zeros in the computer's code. Researchers have created a system called EnerJ, which reduces energy consumption in simulations by up to 50% and has the potential to cut energy by as much as 90%.

"We all know that energy consumption is a big problem," says Luis Ceze, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. "With our system, mobile phone users would notice either a smaller phone, or longer battery life, or both. Computing centers would notice a lower energy bill."

The UW researchers' approach would combine the software component with hardware methods, like using a new type of microchip, lowering refresh rates, and reducing memory chip voltage. However, it also has applications in current computer hardware.

Today's computers could use EnerJ with a purely software-based approach. Researchers estimate a 30-50% energy savings based on software alone.

They believe that up to a 90% cut in power usage could be achieved by combining hardware and software methods.


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