Green Ideas Somniloquy: Download While Your Computer is Sleeping

Green Ideas Somniloquy: Download While Your Computer is Sleeping

Range Govindan
May 1, 2009

If you could save between 60 and 80% of the electricity you normally use through your computer, would you be interested? How about if you could download and IM while your computer was in sleep mode? This is what Somniloquy promises. A way to harness the sleeping mode of our computers, since most of us don't really use or need all of that processing power.

A few researchers from UC San Diego teamed up with Microsoft Research to come up with a new idea to let your computer save on power in sleep mode, and still keep up with instant messaging and other network activity. It's basically a USB dongle that acts as an external networking card. Therefore, it takes over most of the communication duties, thanks to its embedded OS. When your computer goes to sleep, Somniloquy maintains IM connections, and more importantly, ongoing downloads. It keeps your computer present on the local area network and wireless LAN. If a task requires the full computer, Somniloquy wakes up your computer and "patches" it through. It goes as far as buffering the downloads in flash memory, and then dumping them periodically onto the hard drive.

UC San Diego computer science Ph.D. student Yuvraj Agarwal, Steve Hodges, Ranveer Chandra, James Scott, and Paramvir Bahl from Microsoft Research, and Rajesh Gupta from UC San Diego are the brains behind this prototype. It was presented last week at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

Somniloquy boasts 60 to 80% in overall energy savings, based on a user's computer usage. The device is currently in prototype stage. The researchers plan on integrating this functionality into a PC network card. This is something pretty amazing. I have my computer on at all times and I'd like to be able to download in sleep mode. Computers do use a lot of energy and this seems like a great way in saving electricity. [via Engadget, photo by Yuvraj Agarwal]

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