Information and communication technology (ICT) gets increasingly integrated and embedded into our everyday life. The point is reached where the technology itself has to address the energy efficiency of ICT systems, to dramatically reduce their environmental footprint.
Different systems have unique, diverse and complex challenges to address. Mobile devices need to perform more computations given a fixed battery capacity. For embedded systems, like the ones in consumer electronics, customers demand responsiveness is a main feature. Appliances kept in sleep-mode drains batteries and consume electrical power. For computer servers, the power required to operate and cool data centres like Google's is already becoming the lion share of the total cost of ownership.
"Reducing the energy consumption of embedded systems means that we can increase their use in new sectors of the economy, for example energy-smart buildings, where the energy saving potential is around 30 percent", stated Philippas Tsigas, Professor of Computer Science at Chalmers University of Technology, and project co-ordinator for Excess.
The Excess project is first going to develop a clear understanding of where energy-performance is wasted, and then come up with a continuous process to reduce energy waste. This may lead to significant improvements in energy efficiency for computing systems. The lack of holistic integrated approaches, which cover all system layers from hardware to user level software, limit the exploitation of the existing solutions and their energy efficiency.
For instance, although there are chips that support mechanisms to control energy consumption, most of them are ignored because they are difficult for the programmer to use. So instead of making power-aware architectural decision early, where the majority of power savings can be achieved, software power optimization is often applied as a secondary step, after the initial application is written.
"To reach the next level of energy efficiency, interaction of hardware and software needs to be optimized through an iterative software/hardware co-design process, like the one we will develop in Excess", stated Philippas Tsigas.
The Excess consortium is comprised of Europe's leading experts in both High Performance Computing and embedded computing: Chalmers University of Technology, Linköping University, University of Tromsø, the High Performance Computing Center (HLRS) of the University of Stuttgart, and Irish Movidius Ltd.
The 36-month 3.3 million euro project is part of the portfolio of the A.3 unit - Complex Systems and Advanced Computing - of Communications Networks, Content and Technology department of the European Commission.
Chalmers is co-ordinating the scientific work of the project through Prof. Philippas Tsigas.
More information is available at http://excess-project.eu/