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Microsoft funds research for computer energy efficiency

Redmond steps up its "green IT' initiatives with $500,000 in research grants to lower computers power consumption.

Microsoft Research has given out $500,000 to four universities doing research in more energy-efficient computing.

The research grants, announced Monday, are part of Microsoft's Sustainable Computing Program to develop more hardware and software that consumes less power.

Microsoft recently launched an environment Web site and last year, it named Robert Bernard as its chief environmental strategist.

The grants are aimed at techniques to lower power consumption.

  • The University of Tennessee was awarded research money to develop frameworks to account for power and performance improvements in virtualized data centers.
  • Stanford University will design a sensor network to gather data and analyze power consumption.
  • Harvard University will develop a "dynamic runtime environment" that ensures power consumption corresponds to the computational load.
  • The University of Oklahoma will created a simulation framework for studying "low-power microarchitectures for innovative muliticore systems."

Although there are power-saving features in PCs, they are not universally used. Yet an idle PC can consume more than 100 watts, which if left on around the clock for a year, costs more than $80 to power and releases 1,350 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Data centers represent a significant piece of overall electricity usage in the United States, but recent surveys have found that IT departments are not aggressively lowering their power usage.