How is it that a fifteen year old mobile phone can stay on for a week without charging, while a modern smartphone barely make it through the day? There are several reasons, the comparatively large and bright screen being one of them, but the main one is perhaps that it is possible to do so much more with a smartphone than with an old mobile phone, making it consume significantly more power.
However, as our mobile phones have become faster, enabling us to do more things, the components in them have also become more energy efficient. The power cost of performing a calculation is considerably lower today than it has ever been previously, but instead we make a lot more of them. Another way to tackle the problem of dwindling batteries is to find ways of making the software in mobile phones more efficient so that fewer calculations are required by all the apps and features we have become accustomed to.
Reducing the number of necessary calculations, however, does not only lead to better battery life in our mobile phones. The large data centers responsible for delivering services over the Internet such as our social medias, video games and streaming video and music requires so many calculations that the amount of heat generated by all the computers could account for the heating of hot water to nearby cities, if it could be taken care of efficiently. Instead, even more energy is required to keep these centers cool. At the Department of Information Technology, research is conducted both on how computer components can be designed to be more power efficient as well as on how to make software that is more efficient and require fewer calculations.
This kind of research is important not only because it leads to more efficient computers, but also in a greater context as it means that our computers can leave a smaller footprint on our environment and our climate, as less electricity need to be produced to support us and our computers with power.
Curious about this Research?
- The Uppsala Architecture Research Team studies how computer components are and can be better constructed.