Google Inc. has awarded a two-year, $1 million research grant aimed at slashing energy usage in large internet data centers to a team of computer scientists at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia, Rutgers reports. The company also might award an additional $500,000 for a third year subject to program review. The grant is part of $5.7 million that the company has awarded to 12 university projects in areas of key interest to the company and the computing research community. Energy efficiency is a key concern for internet companies, because data centers can consume large amounts of power. “Data centers have to be built to handle the highest anticipated demand,” said Ricardo Bianchini, a Rutgers computer science professor. “But most of the time, they are only running between 20 and 50 percent of capacity. Trouble is, the computer servers in these centers consume about the same amount of energy whether their workload is low or high.” The research team will explore ways to create low power modes in servers, allowing parts of the computer to be turned off while other parts remain accessible. The goal is to allow less active servers to move their processing loads to other servers and essentially go to sleep. But information on the sleeping servers’ memories must still be instantly accessible…

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