Skip to content
Events

Computing for a sustainable future

Event

Starts:

September
302013

13:30

Ends:

October
012013

12:30

Overview

Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Steve Furber CBE FREng FRS, Mr Ian Osborne, Mr Simon McIntosh-Smith and Dr Andrew Rice

Event details

As business, academia and wider society globally all become increasingly reliant on computer systems, software and applications, how can we ensure that this growth is sustainable?

More efficient computing – from smarter algorithms, better chip design, more energy-aware software, and improved power management – offers opportunities to reduce energy consumption, improve mobile computing function, increase large data use, encourage sustainable behaviour, and lower the cost. From developing countries to global business, the benefits will be felt by all.

Computing has the capacity to make a crucial contribution to ensuring a sustainable future for society and the planet. Bringing together computer scientists, electronic engineers, business leaders, and industrial researchers, this meeting examines how that will be achieved.

A draft outline programme (pdf) is available, which is subject to change. The programme includes the opportunity to network at an evening reception held in partnership with the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network.

Biographies of the organisers and speakers are available below. Recorded audio of the presentations will be available on this page after the event.

Part of the year of science and industry.

Attending this event

This event is intended for staff and researchers in relevant fields of business, academia and the public sector, and is free to attend. There are a limited number of places and registration is essential.

Enquiries: Contact the events team

Event organisers

Select an organiser for more information

Schedule of talks

Session 1: Setting the scene

2 talks Show detail Hide detail

Opening remarks

The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science

Show speakers

Situation normal everything must change

Simon Wardley, CSC's Leading Edge Forum

Abstract

Many technological and economic systems share common patterns with biological systems. They are driven by competition. They evolve and co-evolve to good enough components that enable more complex systems. They are governed by ecosystems and undergo adaptive cycles of change including periods of rapid change known as punctuated equilibriums. They consume energy in a pursuit of balancing advantage with entropy, and have inertia to change, but a necessity to adapt and new forms of organisation continuously emerge which exploit this environment through more effective means.

Cloud computing is an example of this complex situation though it is highly predictable in its nature having first been outlined in 1966 by Douglas Parkhill. In this talk, Simon will examine the cycle of change, what this means, and how lessons from the past such as Jevons Paradox, can help us explain were we are heading.

Show speakers

Session 2: Computing at the small – energy efficiency in individual devices

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chair of Session 2. Panel member for Session 5.

Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi FREng, Southampton University

Show speakers

Energy transparency from hardware to software

Dr Kerstin Eder, University of Bristol

Abstract

Energy efficiency is now a major (if not the major) concern in electronic systems engineering. While hardware can be designed to save a modest amount of energy, the potential for savings are far greater at the higher levels of abstraction in the system stack. The greatest savings are expected from energy consumption-aware software. 

This presentation is focused on the importance of energy transparency from hardware to software as a foundation for energy-aware system design. Energy transparency enables a deeper understanding of how algorithms and coding impact on the energy consumption of a computation when executed on hardware. It is a key prerequisite for informed design space exploration and helps system designers to find the optimal tradeoff between performance, accuracy and energy consumption of a computation. Promoting energy efficiency to a first class software design goal is therefore an urgent research challenge. I will give insights into a research agenda towards energy-aware software design, and show initial, very encouraging results in static analysis for energy consumption of programs based on energy consumption models for state-of-the-art hardware. This research forms part of a broader initiative towards Energy-Aware COmputing (EACO), and I will indicate opportunities for engagement at the European level in the near future in the context of a new collaborative project on ICT-Energy. 

The research leading to the results presented has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no 318337, ENTRA - Whole­Systems Energy Transparency, and from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Show speakers

Plan C for a digital low carbon future – less is Moore

Professor Martin Curley, Vice President, Intel Labs and Director, Intel Labs Europe, Intel Corporation

Abstract

Many reports warn of the consequences of ignoring the need for a new sustainability paradigm. The global footprint network has stated that if current consumption trends continue we would need two world’s worth of resources to support us by 2050. This presentation discusses a new approach called Plan C which enables a trajectory towards a digital low carbon society and economy. Moore’s Law is one of the few modern business phenomena which actually support the Sustainability Paradigm and the doubling in transistor density every other year delivered at less or equal cost with increasing energy efficiency has continued for several decades. While the semiconductor and computing industries are playing their roles in improving the energy efficiency of devices, the big opportunity is to use IT to achieve resource coupling so that GDP and quality of life can continue to improve whilst environmental impact and resources consumption are reduced. This presentation presents a number of design patterns which help achieve resource decoupling through automation, dematerialization and substitution approaches.

Show speakers

The ARM approach to energy efficiency and chip level design

John Goodacre, Director, Technology and Systems, ARM Processor Division

Show speakers

Session 3: Computing at the large – exascale computing and datacentres

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chair of session 3. Panel member for session 5.

Professor Erol Gelenbe, Imperial College London

Show speakers

Energy efficiency and next-generation supercomputers

Dr Alex Ramirez, Barcelona Supercomputing Center

Abstract

Energy efficiency is already a primary concern for the design of any computer system and it is unanimously recognized that future Exascale systems will be strongly constrained by their power consumption. 

High Performance Computing was initially built on specialized vector processors and data level parallelism. However, during the 1990's these were replaced by commodity microprocessors used in PCs and workstations in conjunction with message passing programming models. This transition occurred, not because these microprocessors were faster, but because they were more energy-efficient and lower cost. 

There is a new class of super-commodity processors emanating from the mobile device market, which is progressively integrating the features required for HPC. These mobile parts have always been designed to maximize performance per unit of energy and due to their volume, lower the cost. History may repeat itself, if they become more efficient in these respects than today's HPC parts. 

This is why the Mont-Blanc project, which was launched in October 2011, has set itself the following objective: to design a new type of computer architecture capable of setting future global High Performance Computing standards that will deliver Exascale performance while using 15 to 30 times less energy than today's best.

Show speakers

Speaker

Kate Craig-Wood, Memset

Show speakers

Speaker

Zahl Limbuwala, Chief Executive Officer, Romonet Ltd

Show speakers

Session 4: Computing for green – technology to enable sustainability

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

1000%: highs and lows of entertainment and IT in the home

Dr Adrian Friday, Lancaster University

Abstract

Rather than focus on household or appliance level disaggregation of energy use in domestic settings, in our recent work we have begun to explore how energy use supports the services of everyday life. Our 'service based' quantification of energy use helps explain dramatic variations in direct energy impact for similar practices, e.g. 3 orders of magnitude between the lowest and highest consuming ways of achieving 'entertainment and IT'. In this talk we reveal the hidden impacts of IT devices due to their emergent uses and increased interconnectedness, and the challenges these pose for us in creating next generation hardware and software for a lower carbon future.

Show speakers

Chair of session 4. Panel member for session 5.

Professor Andrew Hopper CBE FREng FRS, University of Cambridge

Show speakers

Industrial use of high performance computing for sustainable design

Dr David Standingford, Zenotech Ltd

Abstract

The power and efficiency of many-core devices, such as graphical processing units, are very attractive to industries looking to numerical simulation to accelerate engineering design cycles and improve products. When accessed on-demand in the cloud, high performance computing systems offer a scalable resource with the benefits of commodity pricing.

We describe a number of live projects aimed at industrialising HPC. We focus on sustainability in a broad sense – from metrication of the energy consumption of simulation tasks for different hardware, software and algorithm combinations; developing aerospace-grade simulation capability on state-of-the-art many-core computing systems for offshore wind farm design, and motivating the next generation of engineers with a Bloodhound SSC inspired school teams competition to race virtual supersonic cars – with a real HPC simulation system made available via the internet.

Show speakers

Sustainability, Ubiquity and Social Computation

Professor David Robertson, University of Edinburgh

Abstract

As devices and sensors become more common, networked and better attuned to those who use them, so we offer more opportunities for people to form social groups based on computer-mediated interactions. Massive corporations have been built on short timescapes based on human interest in networking and data sharing. Already we have social computation systems that solve problems that would resist conventional means of attack and can mobilise large human populations in pursuit of shared goals. We have, however, gained this expansion of social computing at an early stage when the human "computation cycles" available for a social computation are relatively easy to obtain. As social computation extends, we will need to find ways of maintaining and reinforcing it without exceeding the capacity for human engagement. This should ideally produce a vituous cycle, so that sustained social computation makes our own societies more sustainable. I will discuss what the benefits have been and might be from this sort of approach, given some assumptions about our ability to build the right sort of architectures and engineering methods.

Show speakers

Session 5: Future outlooks on computing for a sustainable future

3 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chair of Session 2. Panel member for Session 5.

Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi FREng, Southampton University

Show speakers

Chair of session 3. Panel member for session 5.

Professor Erol Gelenbe, Imperial College London

Show speakers

Chair of session 4. Panel member for session 5.

Professor Andrew Hopper CBE FREng FRS, University of Cambridge

Show speakers