Thursday, February 21, 2008

Power Profiling: Saving Energy in Software

I came across a pretty nifty profiling tool a little while ago called PowerTOP. It gives you a live view of the power consumed by applications running on your Linux machine in an interface that resembles top. As a system-level power profiler, it gives you an idea of which applications or drivers are waking up the CPU or preventing it from entering a sleep state.

I think this kind of tool is awesome for both developers and end-users. As a user, it tells me which applications are draining my laptop's battery so I might close those applications if I'm not using them or I might find an alternative altogether. From what I understand, some people have gained significantly higher use-times for their laptops by just killing innocuous-looking apps that don't let the processor enter a deeper sleep state. As a developer, this is good news because it will give me a quantitative measure of my application's power consumption, giving me a means to determine the power-efficiency of different designs. This tool has also managed to expose bugs in a few applications!

Check out PowerTOP, fix your applications, and keep this planet green (and my laptop running longer and cooler)!

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