The European Union has launched a research project that aims to make greener electronics by focusing on the efficiency of firmware.
The ENTRA (whole system energy transparency) project, which includes Bristol-based fabless chip designer XMOS, aims to make systems which use less energy, by concentrating on the often-ignored issue of the efficiency of the software. Its aim is to build energy-awareness into the software development process, so embedded firmware uses less energy.
The ENTRA project has €2.1 million from the EU’s 7th Framework programme for research, and will spend three years working on energy-aware software development using advanced program analysis and modeling of energy consumption in computer systems. The project will allow engineers to predict energy consumption early in the software design phase, thus enabling the development of greener IT products.
XMOS is the commercial partner in a consortium which also includes three academic bodies: Roskilde University in Denmark, the University of Bristol in the UK, and the IMDEA Software Institute in Madrid.
“The ENTRA project is designed to analyse and predict energy usage and make these predictions available to system developers,” said Dr Henk Muller, principal technologist at XMOS, “By optimising code development it will be possible to create more energy efficient computer systems, something which is crucial when developing technologies that meet the increasing green credentials that we all demand.”
XMOS, makes multicore microcontrollers for deterministic, low-latency applications such as positioning robot arms. It is a spin-off from Bristol University and part of a strong silicon heritage in Bristol. Its CTO is David May, a former head of computing at Bristol University, who was previously the designer of the transputer, a parallel computer chip which was the great hope for British computing in the 1990s.
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