Microsoft offers developers guidance on green software tools

A new white paper from Microsoft and emerging academic projects look to encourage organizations’ adoption of green software, using open-source tools that real-world developers can use to measure their carbon footprint.

The white paper, released January 10, documented a partnership between Microsoft, Swiss bank UBS and Green Software Foundation To provide architectural guidance on how to implement two open source tools for carbon-smart computing: Carbon intensity specification programwhich rates emissions according to where and when electricity is consumed, and Carbon Realization SDK, helping developers to run software with less carbon-intensive energy sources at the optimal time to reduce emissions. the White papers described how a pilot implementation of these utilities was used to assess the carbon footprint of Advanced Computational Quantum Analytics, a risk management application from UBS. This means that UBS application workload is shifted to Azure batch processing times with lower demand from other Azure customers, thus reducing carbon intensity to reduce carbon footprint.

This kind of program improvement has the potential to save companies money while addressing climate change, said Todd Meyers, director of the environment at the Washington Policy Center and author of the book. It’s time to think small: how smart environmental technologies can solve the planet’s biggest problems.

“If you can get away from peak hours when energy is more carbon-intensive, you’re already saving electricity, and you’re really saving money and you’re reducing carbon intensity,” he said.

Project Zeus trains artificial intelligence with carbon-sensitive computing tools

Software development has a large carbon footprint, especially with The growth of artificial intelligence And cloud computingsaid Zining Yang, an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

This has led to an increase in energy consumption and carbon emissions from use graphics processing units To train deep neural networks. He said tools like the Carbon Aware SDK can provide developers with the information they need to make informed decisions and create software that is more carbon-efficient or environmentally friendly.

For example, Yang and colleagues at the University of Michigan’s SymbioticLab Research Group used information provided by the Carbon Aware SDK to develop carbon awareness. ZeusA power optimization framework for training a deep neural network (DNN). Yang said Zeus automatically adjusts GPU power limits based on carbon density in real time, resulting in a 24% reduction in carbon emissions during DNN training.

These tools have the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of software development and make a meaningful contribution to combating climate change.

Zining YangUniversity Research Assistant, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

“These tools have the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of software development and make a meaningful contribution to combating climate change,” said Yang.

The carbon-aware data center program will make a difference to global climate change, said Jae-won Chung, a computer science doctoral student at the University of Michigan.

Chung also worked on the Zeus Project. He said that while the Carbon Aware SDK played a major role in the development of Zeus, there was room for improvement in the project’s documentation and responsiveness.

“But I would still say that it is very easy for any decent developer to use,” Chung said.

Yang echoed Chung’s view that getting carbon intensity data from these tools is straightforward for developers. But, he said, integrating this data into the software development process may require additional engineering effort. For example, engineers can access the Carbon Aware SDK via a command line interface, but they can also choose to deploy the Carbon Aware SDK API as a Container Together with an application in a group or separately.

Green software tools are looking for a home for the organization

Open source tools are a good first step in making software applications more environmentally friendly, but enterprise developers’ priority will be user experience, followed by cost, said Jim Douglas, president and CEO of Armory, a SaaS resource for continuous deployment.

How the Carbon Aware SDK interacts with carbon intensity
The Carbon Aware SDK adds carbon metrics to applications.

“If they can equalise [carbon-aware tools] “In optimizing cost without compromising customer experience — for example, performance, reliability, and stability of services —,” Douglas said. “If not, adoption will be slow.”

Putting more effort into publicity and convincing not only developers and product managers, but also people higher up the chain of command, of the importance of energy efficiency and carbon awareness is key to fueling change, Chung said.

“But of course this is not enough,” he said. “The majority of programs must be energy and carbon conscious to make a tangible difference.”

Even if companies are slow to buy, developers’ hands are not tied, said Marco Santos, CEO of the Americas at GFT Group, an IT consulting firm based in Germany. Green coding certificate to all employees. With carbon-smart computing tools, he said, developers can create more efficient and better software.

“If you code badly, you can run an app [for] 10 hours, if you do it in a better way, you can turn it on [for] five minutes “.

But Santos also reiterated Chung’s feeling that tools alone are not enough.

“Tools can train developers,” he said. “But beyond that, what is needed is a broader approach to training developers so that we can be more efficient and create impact.”

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