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Energy-saving PCs consume 80% less power

Posted: 28 Apr 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sleep mode  plug-and-play hardware  low-power computer  computer systems 

"Somniloquy uses a very small low-power computer. It has a low-power processor, some memory, a lightweight operating system, and a small amount of flash to store data. Everything is scaled down and extremely energy efficient," said Agarwal, a self described "computer systems" researcher who uses hardware insights to build better energy-efficient computer systems.

Somniloquy's low-power secondary processor functions at the PC's network interface. It runs an embedded operating system and impersonates the sleeping PC to other hosts on the network. Somniloquy will wake up the PC over the USB bus if necessary. For example, during a movie download, when the flash memory fills up, Somniloquy will wake up the PC and transfer the data. When the transfer is complete, it will go back to sleep mode and Somniloquy will again impersonate the computer on the network.

The current prototypes work for desktops and laptops, over wired and wireless networks, and are incrementally deployable on systems with an existing network interface. It does not require any changes to the operating system on the PC, to routers or other network infrastructure, or to remote application servers.

The researchers evaluated Somniloquy in various settings and say that it consumes 11 to 24 times less power than a PC in idle state, which could translate to energy savings of 60 to 80 per cent depending on their use model.

In the future, Somniloquy could be incorporated into the network interface card of new PCs, which would eliminate the need for the prototype's external USB plug-in hardware. Yuvraj Agarwal worked on this project when he was an intern at Microsoft Research, Cambridge in the summer of 2007, and continued afterwards at UC San Diego. Steve Hodges, Ranveer Chandra, James Scott, and Victor Bahl from Microsoft Research are Somniloquy co-inventors and authors on the NSDI 2009 paper. Agarwal's Ph.D. advisor and paper-coauthor is computer science professor Rajesh Gupta from UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering.

Get related application notes and technical articles on Power Design India.

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