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Research to examine energy saving in networked computers


Research to examine energy saving in networked computers

(August 1, 2001)

California's higher electricity rates have triggered a renewed emphasis on conservation, with consumers and business operators turning up air conditioning thermostats, turning off unneeded lights and replacing older refrigerators with new, more energy-efficient models.

In the midst of the state's energy crisis, a team of computer scientists at the University of California, Riverside is focusing on an often-overlooked electricity-consuming business tool - the computer network.

The team of students led by Professor Brett Fleisch, associate professor of computer science and engineering in UCR's Bourns College of Engineering, is examining hardware configurations and software protocols that could direct computer clusters to perform their jobs in a more energy-efficient manner. Increasingly, computers are being linked together in business, government and academia to perform complex calculations. But, not all of the computers in a cluster need to be put to work on every job or group of jobs, according to Fleisch.

By better balancing of jobs across computers in a network, some computers can go into a "sleep mode" when demand in low, thus saving energy, he said. His team, funded by a grant of nearly $68,000 from the National Science Foundation, is testing various hardware architectures and software protocols to discover which configurations are most energy efficient.

Computer monitors, processors and the fans to cool them, and disk drives account for the majority of electricity consumption in computers. Heat dissipation in computer clusters increases the need for building air conditioning, further increasing the energy demand. Thus, the savings potential is significant. According to PC Magazine, a mid-size company with 250 high-end computers running 24 hours a day could save more than $10,000 a year if those computers operated in a low-power state for 12 hours each day. That amount is exclusive of the considerable air conditioning savings that would additionally result.

Fleisch's team is one of just a handful in the U.S. focusing on energy-consumption in computer networks. Most of the research to date has focused on power-efficiency in single computers and laptops.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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