'Sleep talking' PCs save energy and Money

‘Somniloquy’ a new technology system has been developed by Yuvraj Agarwal from UC San Diego and Microsoft Research. According to the researchers, evaluation of the ‘Somniloquy’ show that “it consumes 11 to 24 times less power than a PC in idle state”, and this could translate to a 60 to 80 percent energy savings depending on their use model it added.

The computer scientists named their system ‘Somniloquy’, because the system allows a PC to perform “non-power-intensive tasks” even though it is in sleep mode and wakes up the PC when higher resources are required for a computing task such as storing files.

In the public release on 23rd April 2009, by EurekAlert.org, UC San Diego computer science Ph.D. student Yuvraj Agarwal presented this work at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 2009). Collaborators on this project and the NSDI 2009 paper,  Somniloquy: Augmenting Network Interfaces to Reduce PC Energy Usage where computer scientists at UC San Diego and Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington and Cambridge, UK.

Figure 4 from the NSDI 2009 paper, Somniloquy: Augmenting Network Interfaces to Reduce PC Energy Usage. The photograph captures the gumstix-based Somniloquy prototype -- Wired-1NIC version.

(Source: NSDI 2009 paper)

The goal of Somniloquy is to encourage people to put their PCs in sleep mode more often, for example when they are not being used for computationally demanding tasks. “Reducing energy consumed by wall-powered devices, especially computing equipment, offers a huge opportunity to save money and reduce greenhouse gasses,” said Agarwal.

Agarwal noted that “Large numbers of people keep their PCs in awake mode even though the PCs are relatively idle for long blocks of time because they want to stay connected to an internal network or the Internet or both”. “I realized that most of the tasks that people keep their computers on for—like ensuring remote access and availability for virus scans and backup, maintaining presence on instant messaging (IM) networks, being available for incoming voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls, and file sharing and downloading—can be achieved at much lower power-use levels than regular awake mode,” said Agarwal.

Based on this realization, Agarwal and the team built a small USB-connected hardware and software plug-in system that allows a PC to remain in sleep mode while continuing to maintain network presence and run well-defined application functions. It supports instant messaging applications, VoIP, large background web downloads, peer-to-peer file sharing networks such as BitTorrent, and remote access. Also the system can be easily extended to support other applications, this the scientists indicated.

“Somniloquy uses a very small low-power computer. It has a low-power processor, some memory, a lightweight operating system, and a small amount of flash to store data. Everything is scaled down and extremely energy efficient,” said Agarwal. Its low-power secondary processor functions at the PC’s network interface an runs an embedded operating system and impersonates the sleeping PC to other hosts on the network. Somniloquy will wake up the PC over the USB bus if necessary. For example, during a movie download, when the flash memory fills up, Somniloquy will wake up the PC and transfer the data. When the transfer is complete, it will go back to sleep mode and Somniloquy will again impersonate the computer on the network.

The statement noted that current prototypes work for desktops and laptops, over wired and wireless networks, and are incrementally deployable on systems with an existing network interface. It does not require any changes to the operating system on the PC, to routers or other network infrastructure, or to remote application servers.

In the future, Somniloquy could be incorporated into the network interface card of new PCs, which would eliminate the need for the prototype’s external USB plug-in hardware, the statement added.

Source: Eurekalert.org

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'Sleep talking' PCs save energy and Money
was published on 27.04.2009 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global
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