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Programming a Greener Future

Category: Software
Posted: June 1, 2011 05:41AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

At least in the United States, more and more of what we use and surrounds us is going “green.” Here at Overclockers Club we may be more inclined to purchase the higher efficiency PSU or the more efficient graphics card not only to help the environment but also to help our wallets because less heat means less power and, therefore, less to pay the electric company. Researchers at the University of Washington are looking to make our computers and other technology greener, but not exclusively with new hardware.

With their new system, EnergJ, energy consumption has been shown to drop by as much as 50% in simulations. How can this be accomplished with only 1s and 0s, you ask? By allowing errors in the bytes. Not all of the data our computers, servers, phones, etc. use need to be exact; much can be approximate. For example, streaming audio or video will not suffer from a few errors. Loosen tolerances and drop the voltages on some of your transistors and there you have it, a way to help the environment!

This system would be most beneficial when coupled with new hardware featuring transistors meant for a lower voltage which could allow for a 90% drop in power used. Just a software only implementation, by rounding values off or skipping accuracy checks, could reduce power usage by 30-50%.

EnergJ is written in Java and the researchers hope to have it released as an open-source tool this summer.



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