Power profiles to help electronics go Green

The power profiles are claimed to help lower energy costs in electronic devices

The energy usage of electronic devices could be reduced simply by changing and improving the way it is measured, a study from the Australian National University (ANU) has found.

Researchers from ANU, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Washington created a systematic profile or ‘power profile’ on microprocessors, and found that such a practice could help lower the energy costs in electronic devices, from mobile devices to supercomputers to data centres.

Dr Steve Blackburn, who is from the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science and led the study with Professor Kathryn McKinley from the University of Texas at Austin, said the researchers looked at different software and chips, as well as the power, performance and energy of hardware.

“We found that different software have really different power usages,” he said in a statement. “This is really important because as technology and processors are getting smaller and smaller, it has stopped yielding exponential gains in power and performance.”

Blackburn said the findings could potentially help tech giants, such as Apple and Google, make their products and their infrastructure more energy efficient.

“For companies which use massive data centres to run their programs and applications, there are real incentives to find ways to conserve power,” he said in a statement. “It’s also beneficial for the hardware. For example, the less power a mobile phone draws from its battery, the longer the battery will last.”

Blackburn also said that power profiles now have to become integral to the design and development of software and hardware.

“Today hardware and software designers have to make a trade off between performance and power in a way that they didn’t have to 10 years ago,” he said in a statement.

“In the past designers only optimised for performance, so if you were picking between two software algorithms, chips or devices you always picked the faster one. You wouldn’t worry about how much power it was using.

“That’s not possible today. Massive shifts in society, culture and technology over the last decade mean that everyone needs to be more energy conscious. Energy efficiency has become a priority for consumers, manufacturers and governments. Our study will mean that we are all on the right track to realising this.”

The study, which Blackburn claimed is a world first, has been selected as one of the year’s most significant papers in computer architecture by the journal IEEE Micro.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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