Green Computing Gets a Boost From Google

Google awarded three researchers from the UCSD computer science and engineering department a $100,000 grant on Feb. 2 to fund their work in energy efficient computing.

Professors of computer science and engineering Tajana Rosing, Steven Swanson and Amin Vahdat have been working to find ways to reduce the amount of energy large computer systems use.

“Right now, if you look at servers, when you turn it on, it consumes a lot of energy,” Rosing said. “Whether you run a lot of programs on it or you run very little on it, it consumes nearly the same amount of energy. That’s kind of problematic if you’re trying to save money and the amount of electricity being used.”

In order to reduce the amount of energy being used by such computer setups, the team is working to design a system that will take in an amount of energy proportional to the amount required by the system.

“What we’re trying to do, effectively, is to create systems that will be much more proportional in terms of how much they run,” Rosing said. “The more they run, the more things they get done [and] the more energy they consume.”

The research is targeted toward systems such as the massive computers that run Google Search or Google Maps.

“In the long run, if we are successful, we will be able to show huge savings in terms of energy costs, and therefore by proxy in terms of reduction in greenhouse emissions,” Rosing said.

In previous research, the team has already found way to reduce the energy used by systems with respect to bandwidth, system cooling and memory.

Vahdat said they hope their findings in their field will contribute to sustainability efforts.

“Energy efficiency is important across a number of different industries,” Vahdat said. “It’s being recognized that information technology is an increasing consumer of energy. It’s an exciting time to be working in this space because you can have a real impact on the energy that’s being consumed.”

Readers can contact Ayelet Bitton at [email protected].

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