LessWatts.org Powers Up Linux Energy Conservation Program

Intel has created a new open source energy-saving project — LessWatts.org — which it hopes will help drive innovations so that Linux-powered servers, PCs and even household devices use up less juice.

Intel unveiled the project at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Friday, noting that the fledgling initiative will bring together a community of Linux developers, open source vendors and end users to facilitate technology development, deployment and tuning and sharing of information around Linux power management.

Reducing Energy Needs

“We created LessWatts.org to accelerate technology development and simplify information sharing for effective power management across a broad spectrum of devices and industry segments that are utilizing Linux,” said Renee James, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel’s Software and Solutions Group. LessWatts.org, she noted, will combine disparate energy-related efforts to help deliver energy-efficient solutions to market faster, which would, of course, benefit customers who use Intel-based products and Linux solutions.

For large data centers, energy consumption by a variety of server types, including Linux, has been steadily increasing over the last decade — so much so that some data centers can no longer pipe in additional energy. For these data centers, any incremental improvement in energy consumption is significant. Plus, there’s a cost savings associated with burning less energy, as well as a reduced impact on the environment.

When it comes to mobile devices like laptops and cell phones, Linux operating systems can be improved to help the devices idle down and improve battery life.

Resources Online

The LessWatts.org site offers tips and tricks, documentation, downloads and ways for experts to get directly involved with creating new ways to save power. As of now, the initiative encompasses several key projects, including Linux kernel enhancements like the “tickless idle” feature that takes better advantage of power saving hardware technologies, the PowerTOP tool that helps tune Linux applications to be power aware, and the Linux Battery Life Toolkit, which helps measure the impact of Linux code changes on power savings.

Of course, LessWatts.org also provides Linux support for hardware power saving features being implemented in current and upcoming Intel platforms.

Linux for All

Even though Intel benefits, Linux itself stands to gain from the program as well, according to Dan Kahn, chief operating officer at The Linux Foundation.

“The Linux Foundation works closely with Intel and is very supportive of Intel’s efforts with LessWatts.org,” he told LinuxInsider. “All of the power management and green approaches that are being proposed are improvements to the different open source components that make up the Linux platform.

“When these improvements are submitted as patches and accepted, every Linux distribution, vendor and end-user gets to take advantage of them. There is no competition between different forums discussing how improvements can be made — we all share the same goal, and we all benefit from each other’s contributions,” he added.

The Linux Foundation, by the way, already has its own “Green Linux Initiative” under way, which also focuses on improving power management in Linux.

Big Players on Board

“In response to customer demand for power savings across their entire IT environment, we’ve implemented significant features in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 that allow our customers to minimize their carbon footprint,” said Paul Cormier, executive vice president of Engineering at Red Hat.

“These include virtualization that enables server consolidation and highly efficient resource allocation, and support for the power management capabilities provided by the latest Intel processors. Red Hat continues to work closely with Intel to provide customers with ecologically sensitive solutions, and we look forward to actively contributing to the LessWatts.org project,” he noted.

Novell, for its part, is also working on power management technologies for Suse Linux Enterprise. “We are committed to helping drive the technology forward as part of LessWatts.org and providing value to our customers by incorporating that technology into upcoming Suse Linux Enterprise releases,” noted Jeff Jaffe, Novell executive vice president and chief technology officer.

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