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UB receives prestigious IBM award for ‘green internet’ collaboration

UB researchers Tevfik Kosar and Murat Demirbas' proposed software solution could extend the battery life of smartphones and reduce energy consumption.

By CORY NEALON

Published November 28, 2017

“We need to find a way to make these devices work smarter in order to increase efficiency and improve our ability to share data.”
Tevfik Kosar, associate professor
Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Who hasn’t cursed their smartphone battery? Or downloaded something that took too much time or data?

Thought so.

To alleviate these annoyances — and build a more energy-efficient and less costly internet — IBM has awarded UB computer scientists Tevfik Kosar and Murat Demirbas $75,000 to develop a software-based solution that reduces the energy consumption of existing computing hardware.

The research project, called “GreenDataFlow,” could ultimately benefit consumers, as well as large information technology companies that provide cloud-hosted, web-based and internet-of-things services.

“There are billions of devices, everything from tablets to automobiles, connected to the internet, and billions more are expected. We need to find a way to make these devices work smarter in order to increase efficiency and improve our ability to share data,” says Kosar, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

The award comes from IBM’s Open Collaboration Research program, in which the company partners with universities on strategically important research projects to accelerate innovation that benefits the world at large.

To curb energy use in internet-connected devices, most work has focused on power management and energy efficiency in hardware and software systems, as well as power-aware networking technologies.

“It is a rule of thumb in optimization, especially in computing systems, that if you want to gain something you need to lose something else. This often involves putting components, such as the central processing unit or disk, to sleep when they are not in use to save power,” says Kosar.

That’s problematic, he explains, because the technique ultimately sacrifices performance since the computer needs to restart the suspended components.

For GreenDataFlow, the researchers will develop new power-consumption models and optimization algorithms that will be folded into software designed to be incorporated into Firefox, Safari and other internet browsers. Users would not need to download separate software.

In preliminary experiments, the software outperforms existing systems. For example, GreenDataFlow boosts data-transfer speeds by seven times. What’s more, it saves up to 80 percent of the energy required by the consumer’s device, increasing a mobile device’s battery life up to four times.

The work relates to another project Kosar is leading called OneDataShare, which is funded by a $584,469 National Science Foundation grant. One of the primary goals of OneDataShare is to boost the performance of data transfers.

GreenDataFlow complements OneDataShare by reducing the energy footprint and cost of those transfers.