Photo via PhysOrg, Credit: Yuvraj Agarwal
A common reason people do not shut down their computers at night is because they want them to be able to access updates, or be accessible by other machines. However, that's a big power waster. A new device might solve the issue, allowing PCs to talk in their sleep.
"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," said [UC San Diego computer science Ph.D. student Yuvraj] Agarwal. "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.
Going off this notion, Agarwal and his research team created a USB-connected hardware and software plug-in system called Somniloquy that will let PCs chatter away on a network connection while remaining in power-sipping sleep mode. Instant messages, VoIP, web downloads, file sharing and other functions can still be up and running.
"Reducing energy consumed by wall-powered devices, especially computing equipment, offers a huge opportunity to save money and reduce greenhouse gasses," said Agarwal.
We like that thinking! Somniloquy is reported to consume 11 to 24 times less power than a PC in idle state, depending on which setting it is in, and that can mean an energy savings of 60-80% depending on the way the device is used. Details on how the device works can be found in Agarwal's paper "Somniloquy: Augmenting Network Interfaces to Reduce PC Energy Usage".