Green computer science is the study and practice of eco-friendly computing or IT. The scope of sustainable computing touches upon the production, use and disposal of computers. The rapid technological changes have resulted in an endless appetite for newer, more powerful IT products, which has in turn raised the environmental threat as people scrap the older models and purchase modern products.
Today, computing processes and operations are responsible for a large percentage of the overall energy consumption, which contributes to increased green house gas emissions; therefore, it is important to encourage and take part in on – going dialogue to find new environmentally friendly technologies in computer science.
Green computing is an issue that affects everyone, since e-waste threatens the environment through its sheer tonnage and the toxins found in certain products. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that total annual e-waste amounts to tens of millions of tons, which has forced all stakeholders to look for effective solutions. Certain measures and programs such as the energy star rating aim to promote energy efficiency.
Green computing can only work when manufacturers, consumers, and the regulatory agencies work together. Eco-friendly computing goes beyond using computer resources more efficiently; in fact, it encompasses adoption of non-toxic production methods; such as, the design of energy-saving computing devices and production of recyclable and biodegradable electronic components. Other common green technologies in computer science include:
Dynamic Power Scaling Technology
Dynamic power scaling is a computer architecture technique that allows a drastic reduction in the working rate or frequency of a microprocessor or link interfaces to reduce energy consumption and generation of heat by the chip. CPU throttling is most common in mobile devices and laptops, where power comes from a battery and hence is limited.
Dynamic power scaling uses two main techniques; namely, low power idle and adaptive rate. The former forces the processor to operate on a low-power state when not processing packets, and rapidly switch to a high–power state when processing one or more packets. The latter technique works by dynamically adjusting the capacity of a processor or a link according to the service requirements and traffic load.
Virtualization and Cloud Computing
Virtualization is a modern IT paradigm that allows separation of technology implementations and computing functions from physical hardware, while cloud computing is virtualization of computer programs via the internet. Virtualization eliminates the need for hardware associated with certain IT functions, which in turn reduces energy consumption. It works by running two or more computer systems on a single, powerful hardware unit.
Cloud computing is a modern technology that is rapidly gaining traction in the information technology industry. Exponential data growth has led to the increased demand for data storage systems, power, cooling technology, labor, and space. The traditional approach of adding more storage disks, processors and other IT hardware results in increased energy demands hence it is not sustainable. The United States Department of Energy estimates that data centers use up to 100 to 200 times more power than normal office buildings; therefore, a more energy-efficient design for data centers is necessary. Research shows that widespread use of cloud computing can result in a 38% reduction in global data center energy demand by 2020.
Terminal Server Technology
Using terminal servers is a green computing technique that allows multiple users to connect to a central server, which performs all the processing; however, each user experiences the system on his or her terminal. This technique works best when combined with thin clients, which consume as little as an eighth the amount of power a normal workstation consumes.
Energy Star Hardware Components
Energy star labeled computer monitors, laptops, desktops and printers consume less power and power down when not in use. Technological advances have enabled the development of more powerful, energy-efficient hardware, such as LCD monitors, that require significantly less power to operate.
Continued development of green technologies in computer science is necessary to limit power consumption and to protect the environment.