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EU funds holistic approach on greener computing

Press release   •   Nov 29, 2013 09:42 GMT

The ICT-sector faces two key challenges for global society and economy to grow in a sustainable manner. It needs to enable increased energy efficiency, while continuing to deliver growing computer performance as well. Both challenges have the same core: the energy efficiency of the ICT systems themselves – a core to be tackled in the new Chalmers lead EU project Excess.

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 centers 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,” says Philippas Tsigas, Professor of Computer Science at Chalmers University of Technology, and project coordinator 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,” says Philippas Tsigas.

More on the Excess project

  • The Excess consortium comprise 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 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 coordinating the scientific work of the project through Prof. Philippas Tsigas.

Philippas Tsigas, Professor of Computer Science at Chalmers University of Technology, +46 31 772 5409,

Chalmers University of Technology conducts research and offers education in technology, science, shipping and architecture with a sustainable future as its global vision. Chalmers is well-known for providing an effective environment for innovation and has eight priority areas of international significance – Built Environment, Energy, Information and Communication Technology, Life Science, Materials Science, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Production, and Transportation. Situated in Gothenburg, Sweden, Chalmers has 11,000 full-time students and 2,500 employees.