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Intel aims to reduce Linux power consumption

Oct 5, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Intel has launched an open source project focused on lowering power consumption in Linux-based systems and devices. The project, dubbed “,” aims to “meet the growing demands for increased energy efficiency across the computing spectrum spanning servers in data centers to personal mobile devices.”

Intel unveiled the new initiative Sept. 20 at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The initiative's goal is to “facilitate technology development, deployment, and tuning and sharing of information around Linux power management,” the company said

In addition to the obvious benefits of reduced power consumption in large data centers, “mobile users are also constrained by power consumption limits as battery space is continually squeezed with the overall reduction in size of mobile devices,” Intel said. The company noted that, “In both the server and the mobile markets, Linux operating systems continue to grow in relevance and market segment share.” initially hosts several key projects, according to Intel, including:

  • Linux kernel enhancements — for example, a “tickless idle” feature claimed to take better advantage of power saving hardware technologies
  • PowerTOP — a tool said to help tune Linux applications to be power aware
  • Linux Battery Life Toolkit — measures and instruments the impact of Linux code changes on power savings
  • Support for hardware power saving features being implemented in current and upcoming Intel platforms

Projects currently listed on the site include:

  • PowerTOP
  • Tickless Idle
  • Power Policy Manager
  • Applications Power Management
  • Processor Power Management
  • Power and Performance Measurement
  • BLTK
  • Power QoS
  • Device and Bus Power Management
  • Display and Graphics Power Saving
  • Virtualization

The site also offers a power-management FAQ and numerous other documentation of interest to developers. One area is devoted to “tips and tricks,” contributed by both Intel's engineers and the community; these currently include:

  • Enable the power aware SMP scheduler
  • Use SATA link power management
  • Enable WiFi power management
  • Check for unused Bluetooth
  • Use gigabit ethernet speeds only when needed

According to Renee James, corporate VP and GM of Intel's Software and Solutions Group, stated, Intel “created 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.”

MontaVista, which along with IBM pioneered “Dynamic Power Management” (DPM) technology for Linux back in 2003, touted enhanced DPM capabilities in the recent releases of its Mobilinux 5.0 OS for mobile phones. DPM comprises a set of kernel and driver APIs aimed at letting applications power down unused hardware subsystems.

In its latest high-end embedded processor roll-out, meanwhile, Intel competitor ARM Ltd, which offers RISC processor cores targeting consumer devices such as mobile phones, cited “Adaptive Shutdown” and “Intelligent Energy Manager” power management features claimed capable of reducing power consumption up to 85 percent.

This initiative is part of Intel's participation in the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI), the company said. To learn more, visit

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