Green Computing: An Overview
The Application of ‘Green Computing’ refers to the adoption of a sustainable business landscape in designing, manufacture, use and disposal of various resources related to Information Technology (IT). Green computing is essentially an environmentally friendly use of IT technology to lessen the burden on the planet. Practice’s promoting green computing include implementing energy efficient CPU’s (central processing units), peripherals and servers and effective disposal of E-waste.
The Significance and Applications in Green Computing
The significance of Green Technology and its approaches lie in lesser usage of IT services and the corresponding increase in energy consumption and carbon emissions. This in turn has disastrous ramifications on the health and livelihood of people and environment. The energy demand of the IT sector is estimated to grow by 50 percent by 2030 and the consequent emissions by 26 percent. In light of such developments, as nations around the globe embark on digital transitions, it becomes imperative to focus on a sustainable digital future.
As technology integrates seamlessly into various aspects of life, research into green computing requires catering to the specific and disparate needs of each sector. Cloud computing and the resultant cloud data Centres (CDC) enables storage of large data through virtualization of physical resources. As a result, it increases efficiency in working remotely and, owing to a year’s worth of WFH, has increasingly contributed to e-pollution.
Cloud computing itself has significantly reduced power consumption to a great extent- as it eliminates the need for servers and coolers. Green Cloud Computing aims at further bringing down these numbers. Virtual Machine Migration is exploited increasingly for this purpose and the field, burdened by network costs, is being developed further by employment of compression techniques over long distances. While this seems promising, it is not to say that it comes with its own set of challenges. Cost efficiency becomes a task as this system relies on renewable energy and its associated functions like waste heat utilization measures which increase infrastructural and operational costs.
The eventual upgradation of smartphones has reduced dependency on desktop . An increase in mobile-applications has thus increased phone computing energy costs which requires a sustainable approach to the design and manufacturing of these units. Each component involved presents a unique situation- the Architectural Design (CPU, RAM etc.) consisting of static and dynamic power Software tools (Wi-Fi, GPS etc.) entails the tail power. The former is device dependent, drawing its power consumption rates from the device’s insulation capabilities and the latter impact the power consumption of the device; for instance, they deplete the battery charge quickly.
Studies have been conducted to estimate a device’s energy consumption to optimize energy and increase the life of these smartphones. They use State of Charge and Code Analysis methods using factors such as battery aging, charging/discharging rate and highlight the hardware and software options for green phone computing. Other efforts include educating developers, energy bug handling, and optimizing code generators.
However, this field relies on high accuracy and the current systems often offer inaccurate estimations.
Internet of things (IoT) is an ecosystem of smart devices that share the data they collect from their environments thus eliminating the need for human intervention. IoT makes use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and even cloud services to aid this process. In short, it requires a collaboration of enabling technologies and communication strategies. Examples include Green Radio Frequency Identification, Green Wireless Sensor Networks and Green M2M Communication. These technologies make use of algorithms such as periodic reporting strategy and infrastructure such as eco-friendly tags to enable Green IoT. However, it is also fraught with problems of architecture, infrastructure and security.
From these examples it is easy to draw common practices which are key to enable and enhance green computing. Starting with Virtualization, which allows combining several physical systems as virtual machines thus significantly reducing hardware components and energy consumption. Algorithm efficiency is another key player as an inefficient code design has a high impact on the total energy consumption of the device. Examples of efficient algorithms include Slack Reduction Algorithm (SRA), a simulation-based algorithm for workforce scheduling to increase labor output and the Computation and Transmission Rate Based algorithm which selects a server in a set of possible servers so that the total power consumption of servers and the overhead of a load balancer can be reduced. Other practices include Improved CDC cooling measures (raised floors, alternating hot and cool passageway), Power Management (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface), storage (smaller form factor hard drives) and Display (LED and LCDs in place of fluorescent bulbs).
Several stakeholders have stepped up to further the green computing agenda. Apple concentrates its efforts on the product design and has removed elemental forms of bromine and chlorine from their products such as PVC and BFRs. Its devices also use recyclable glass and aluminums and come equipped with energy saver features. Similarly, Wipro has also time and again reiterated its commitment towards environmental sustainability. The torch is carried forward by Google, who embarked on the mission decades ago and make use of recycled water to run their facilities.
In India, the government has spearheaded the mission with the launch of the Green IT Initiative under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY). Under the same, the department initiated into the development of technologies and sustainable solutions for Smart Buildings with low carbon emissions. To this effect, it has partnered with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Chennai, Bangalore for Development of ICT technologies for Smart Building with Low carbon emissions and CDAC, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum for Design and Development of Systems and solutions for Smart Cities using Internet of Things (IOT).
There has never been a more imperative time for adoption of Green Computing. When we realise the integration of technology into the seemingly disparate aspects of life, this transition assumes urgency. Technology has demonstrated potential to answer pressing modern concerns, from rural ecology to global conflicts. Thus, it is important to make use of it in tandem with the environment and make environmentally conscious decisions.
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- Chowdhury, S. N., Kuhikar, K. M., & Agnihotri, A. (n.d.). Green Computing: An Overview with Reference to India. International Journal of Electrical, Electronics and Computer Systems (IJEECS), 3(2). http://www.irdindia.in/journal_ijeecs/pdf/vol3_iss2/5.pdf
- Ohri, A. (2020). Green Cloud Computing: A Beginner’s Guide. Jigsaw Academy. https://www.jigsawacademy.com/blogs/cloud-computing/green-cloud-computing/