UT Knoxville Researcher Wins Microsoft Grant for Green Computing

KNOXVILLE — A researcher from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is seeking new ways to make computing more environmentally friendly, thanks to a research award from Microsoft.

Xiaorui Wang, an assistant professor in the UT Knoxville Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will receive $100,000 from the Redmond, Wash.-based company to study how to reduce the power used by computer data centers while still maintaining high performance.

“The question of how to limit power consumption while keeping performance high is of great importance to making computing more environmentally friendly,” said Wang. “This funding will give us a great resource in finding the answers.”

The award is part of $500,000 given to four universities around the country to study sustainable computing. Other recipients were Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Oklahoma.

“We want to open new avenues of research and raise the awareness of power as a critical resource that needs to be managed,” said Sailesh Chutani, senior director of Microsoft External Research. “Through this program, we are encouraging novel thinking about how to reduce that power consumption and how to make technology more environmentally friendly into the future.”

Reducing the amount of power used by large computing centers would have two benefits. First, it would save a potentially large amount of money for the company that managed the system. Second, since less energy would be needed to run the system, there would be less pollution created in the process of generating that energy.

The problem, said Wang, is that traditional approaches to limiting power consumption can restrict a computer’s performance below the levels at which it was intended to work. On the other hand, as computer performance is increased, it is often at the cost of greatly increased energy consumption.

Wang will use the funding from Microsoft to look at a specific type of computer server in search of a method that will allow the server to get the best performance possible using the least amount of power. Doing so will require Wang and his research team to take advantage of evolving technology that lets one single physical server act as the home to a number of “virtual” servers run by different users.

The award is part of Microsoft’s Sustainable Computing Program. More information on the grant is available at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/apr08/04-28PowerAwarePR.mspx.

More information on Wang and his work can be found at http://www.ece.utk.edu/~xwang/. Wang’s research on this subject also is supported by the National Science Foundation, as well as by IBM through a Real-Time Innovation Award.


Contacts:

Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)