Feed Your PC Granola (the Software) to Cut Energy Use

photo crunchy granola close-up
Photo Credit: Average Jane, Flickr.

Granola can be a good source of fiber, and granola can be used as another word for Treehugger. Then there's grano.la. Notice the dot. It's a software program developed by a Virginia Tech prof with a TV star name and a graduate student with a fantastic mustache. The program can reportedly increase the energy efficiency of your PC or laptop by up to 30 percent without turning it off or noticeably slowing it down.
Is this too good to be true? The Grano.la program is free to download from MiserWare. The developers are Kirk Cameron, with the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, and student Joseph Turner, VP of Engineering at MiserWare. There's also a fee-based commercial version for companies that want "dramatically significant energy savings."

According to Cameron, MiserWare was created in 2007 "to put the power management techniques we developed in the lab in the hands of the masses." Since Granola launched in April 2010 (Earth Day), it's been downloaded about 200,000 times from more than 100 different countries.

It's also been written up by Time magazine, and reviewed on Lifehacker and CNET.

How does it work? Cameron and Turner compare it to a dimmer switch for your computer's processor. The program uses a technology called DVFS, short for dynamic voltage and frequency scaling. This DVFS has been built into most computers for about five years and allows software to regulate the speed and power use of the CPU in real-time, without rebooting, based on what you're doing.

See an introduction to Granola.

See Granola in action.

I tried installing it, and found I had to enable DVFS to make it work on my year-old Asus. That involves making changes to the BIOS. Not something I'm ready to mess with this morning. But the MiserWare folks say they'll help out people who need configuration help (raising hand). Hopefully, this can help with that burning sensation from a hot laptop.

(Update: It was pretty easy to configure, and I didn't need to mess with the BIOS after all ... Just restarted and turned off an existing Asus utility. Saving 27% and the PC still seems snappy).

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