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Device Lets Computers ‘Sleep’ Yet Function, Saves 80% Energy

computer-snapshot-2A new computer device promises to gain the efficiency of letting a computer “sleep” yet still allow it to perform some basic functions like instant messaging and accessing the remote desktop.

The USB-connected hardware and software plug-in device is dubbed Somniloquy, which is defined as “the act or habit of talking in one’s sleep,” according to UPI. It was designed by researchers from the University of California-San Diego and Microsoft Corp.

So far, trials have resulted in energy savings of 60-80 percent in common scenarios, according to Microsoft. There is a short lag time of several seconds in activating the computer, however.

Numerous recent studies point to the efficiency gained by using programs to idle computer workstations when they are going unused. Typically, computers go into what is called S3 (suspend to RAM). However, most programs used for this do not allow computer programs to stay in operation.

The new device allows workers to use:

  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • large background Web downloads
  • peer-to-peer file sharing networks
  • remote access

A paper describing the device is available here.

Key findings of the 2009 PC Energy Report, commissioned by 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy, reveal that nearly half of U.S. employees who use a PC at work don’t shut down their computers at the end of the day, wasting $2.8 billion every year powering 108 million unused PCs.

By shutting down computers each night, for example, a company with 10,000 PCs can save more than $165,000 a year in energy costs, according to the study. In the U.S. this translates into more than $1.72 billion and nearly 15 million tons of CO2 emissions.

Looking forward, the IT industry can expect virtualization to dramatically reduce energy use and hardware outlays. The server virtualization software market will grow at 28 percent, compounded annually, from 2008 through the end of 2013, advancing from $1.8 billion now to $6.2 billion, according to the “Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2009 and Beyond: Where Is the Money?” report, from Gartner Research.

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