New Computer Programming Framework Aims for Energy-Efficient WebJohn Simpson | July 01, 2016
Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) have developed a new open-source computer programming framework that could help make the web more energy efficient by allowing people to save more battery power while browsing on mobile devices.
To help mobile device users maximize their limited battery storage, UT Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Vijay Janapa Reddi and graduate student Yuhao Zhu have developed what they are calling “GreenWeb,” a set of web programming language extensions that enable web developers to have more flexibility and control over the energy consumption of a website.
GreenWeb is designed to guide the web browser engine more efficiently to save processor energy without sacrificing user experience. The language extensions, implemented as CSS style rules, allow developers to express hints to the browser, which in turn conserves power when excessive computational horsepower is not necessary.
The researchers integrated GreenWeb into Google Chrome and reported energy savings of 30% to 66% over Android’s default mode. As mobile device users spend nearly two-thirds of their time browsing the web, those energy savings could result in a 20% to 40% battery life extension.
The researchers also developed AutoGreen, an automatic tool within the GreenWeb framework to assist developers in automatically making web pages energy friendly. The system continuously monitors hardware and browser execution behavior to better understand how to maximize energy efficiency during interactive usage.
“Web pages and apps are getting larger and increasing in complexity, putting more pressure on CPU and network resources for performance that draws power,” says Reddi.
The web’s energy demands have significant implications in the digital economy, the researchers note. Poor energy behavior is one of the top reasons that mobile users give negative app reviews, and 55% of mobile users say they would delete an app for heavy battery usage, according to an independent survey by market research company Instantly.
Additionally, high energy requirements of a website or app could lead to processor performance throttling, which in turn leads to slower web page load times, resulting in lost traffic, consumers and revenue.