Energy and Green Computing Research Projects

Using the energy dashboard, we have been able to identify the various opportunities to save energy across the UCSD campus. Our initial data, especially within the CSE building, shows that information technology (IT) equipment is one of the dominant energy comsumers in a modern mixed-use building.

Therefore, in our effort to reduce the energy footprint of IT infrastructure, several of our key research efforts focus on allowing computers (desktops and laptops) to employ low-power modes such as "sleep" more frequently. The key observation driving our research in this space is that computers are often in an idle state and are left on purely to support network-facing applications such as allowing remote access (RDP, SSH) or running download applications. Our solution to this issue is to augment computers such that they can maintain network presence and availability even in low-power "sleep" modes, thus resulting in significant energy savings. To achieve this goal, we have devised two energy-saving architectures as follows:

Somniloquy - For individual hosts, such as personal desktop PCs and laptops, our Somniloquy project proposes to augment the network interface of computers with a low-power secondary processor that enables PCs to essentially "talk in their sleep" thus leading to significant energy savings. We implemented a Somniloquy prototype using the Gumstix platform which interfaces to any existing PC using a USB port, allowing incremental deployment. The augmented network interface can then maintain network presence as well as act on behalf of the host PC when it is in a sleep mode, waking it up only when required.

SleepServer - For enterprise settings, our follow on project "SleepServers" seeks to achieve similar functionality as provided by Somniloquy without any additional hardware on the end hosts. The advantages of the SleepServer architecture are: highly scalable to hundreds of hosts, ease of administration, and a software-only architecture, to name a few.

Both of our energy saving architectures allow a computer to transition into a low power sleep state while continuing to maintaining their network presence and availability to other hosts on the network. Additionally they allow certain network transactions (such as long running downloads, participating in P2P networks) to continue even in a sleep state. Typical energy savings range from 60% - 80% under commonly occurring scenarios.

Many of the computers we are monitoring have these capabilities implemented, and therefore have reduced energy usage compared to computers that simply stay on all the time. You can see the energy reduction we can affect with such systems in place. In addition to seeing the power usage cycle up and down, we also display the energy savings from utilizing SleepServer/Somniloquy. A sample system using our energy saving architectures can be seen here.

Our Somniloquy project has been getting a lot of press! Check out some of the reviews:

Top 20 Kick-Ass Networking Research Ideas of the year!

Check out the other press reviews we got!