In these tough economic times, sometimes it seems the world is coming to an end. Fear not. While I can’t comment much on the world ending, I can tell you that power management technologies are improving.
When I first started doing research in power management about a decade ago, power management was basically an enigma wrapped in an annoyance. No one quite knew how it worked on the inside and any interaction with power management like using system standby usually led to system lock, lost data and a variety of other maladies.
But alas, there is hope. Over the last decade, our ability to manage power has increased. We can now control the power consumption of processors, disks, memory, peripheral devices, etc. Why the explosion of controllability? First and foremost, in 2004/2005, laptops began outselling desktop computers. This led to a change in manufacturing strategy to target mobile devices in families of components. Processor families started being designed primarily for mobile devices with the associated power management features built in. Similar trends have occurred in disk technologies and memory. Even the recent growth in solid state technology is attributable to this trend. Second, the power budget of a commodity computer laptop, desktop or server is (for practical reasons) capped. This coupled with John Q Public’s insatiable desire for performance improvements (and thus more power consumption) in each device within a commodity system means something has to give.
Besides new technologies like multicore chips and solid state storage that consume less power per computation or transaction, these trends have led to increases in the number of power and performance states available in a system. This has led to the emergence of companies like MiserWare and software like Granola that attempt to manage the additional power states in a computer.
So, if the economy has got you down, buck up in the knowledge that our ability to reduce waste in computer equipment is always improving!