Computer Workstation Power Management, As Much about Attitude as Sustainability
During Fall Semester 2011, the University Libraries are partnering with students in Capstone in Computer Technology, ITCMP 466, a course in the Department of Technology, College of Applied Science and Technology, taught by Dr. David Hua. This semester, the class is involved in an immersive learning project that studies and seeks a solution to an important and challenging problem.
Students in the project are testing and evaluating three workstation power management applications to determine impact on user experience, review program features, and measure actual power savings. University Libraries’ public access workstations on the Bracken Library’s first floor are the test-bed. The academic part of the project will conclude in mid-December 2011 when the students present their findings.
Power consumption at computer workstations is a hot button issue because many people feel that there is a better solution than allowing a workstation to run while waiting for a user to select it for use. A goal of the immersive learning project is to identify a solution to reduce power consumption at the workstation that has campus-wide application and that will work on both Windows and Mac OSX computers.
The three power management programs under review are Surveyor from Verdiem, Power Manager from Verismic, and Power Pro Manager from Excelerate. Power meters are used to measure actual power consumption on workstations that are operating the software and on workstations that are not. Students will then compare the power consumption on both types of desktop configurations.
Part of the challenge with power management programs is user attitude. There is general concern that workstation performance will degrade, or take much longer to bring the computer to a usable state, or other applications will not work properly. Addressing user attitude about computer power management is a component of the project. User apprehension is not without merit since, in the past, many power management programs interfered with performance and workflow efficiencies.
The University Libraries successfully operate over 425 computers for student research and learning in Bracken Library, the Architecture Library, and the Science Health Science Library. These computers operate 24x7 except during academic breaks and in rare instances when the library is closed for more than 48 hours. Power Management programs hold some promise to reduce the environmental footprint of these popular workstations.
In late August 2011, the University Libraries were asked to consider using computer clusters in Bracken Library as the test bed for the student-managed immersive learning project researching power management applications. The University Libraries’ workstations are very popular with students, so any testing is against real-world use scenarios. The University Libraries welcomed the opportunity to participate in this effort, particularly since it could lead to an opportunity to operate workstations more efficiently.
For more information, contact Bradley D. Faust
, Assistant Dean for Library Information Technology Services. ◙