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Richard Croley

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Hardware and Software that Allow Computer Servers to Use Renewable Energy More Efficiently

Optimizes Server Switching Between Power Sources to Maximize Renewable Energy Utilization

This package of hardware called "SolarCore" and software called "iSwitch" saves money by optimizing computer server clusters' renewable energy use. In the U.S., interest has grown in harnessing energy from environmentally sustainable sources such as sunlight for "greener" computing instead of using electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. Photovoltaic systems are expected to provide 15 to 20 percent of the world's electricity by 2040. Unpredictable weather events, such as cloud cover, hamper these systems' efficiency by blocking sunlight from reaching solar collection panels. This makes it difficult to supply enough power to match consumption. Available green computing systems incur significant solar-energy losses since they are largely workload-driven and do not account for important supply-side attributes. Recent green energy harvesting techniques improve energy utilization, but they require large, expensive batteries.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed hardware and software that significantly improve computer server energy efficiency and performance without the need for batteries. The SolarCore hardware enables multi-core processors to autonomously and efficiently harvest solar energy by performing load matching under variable photovoltaic power output. In laboratory experiments, SolarCore achieved a high average green energy utilization score of 82 percent. The iSwitch software allows server clusters consisting of thousands of nodes to switch back and forth from renewable power to traditional utility power (or some other energy source), ensuring that power availability keeps pace with demand.



Hardware and software that optimizes microprocessor performance in server clusters running on renewable energy



  • Facilitates "green" computing, resulting in lower energy costs
  • Performs load matching to variable photovoltaic power output, maximizing total solar energy utilization
  • Allows servers to switch from solar (or other intermittent renewable energy sources) to utility power (and back again) when necessary, ensuring consistent high-level performance
  • Eliminates the need for batteries, enhancing reliability
  • Reduces power dependence on fossil-fuels while optimizing workload performance, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint


This hardware and software combination increases the energy efficiency of renewable-powered server clusters. SolarCore uses multi-core microprocessor power management schemes to achieve high green energy utilization of 82 percent from solar panels under various environmental conditions. Efficient heuristics allocate solar power usage time across multiple cores, improving workload performance. Joint optimization arrangements allow SolarCore to reduce the carbon footprints of computing systems. iSwitch is an energy control system that addresses the operational overhead of renewable energy powered data centers. It leverages existing infrastructures and applies a supply/load cooperative scheme to minimize performance overhead. Together, SolarCore and iSwitch optimize renewable energy utilization, while effectively managing network traffic and reducing job waiting times.

Research Terms: Computer Science > Computer Technology
Engineering > Electrical Engineering
Keywords: Computer System, data center convergence, Renewable Energy,;
Technology Inventors: Chao Li
Tao Li
Technology Information URL:
University: University of Florida
Tech Transfer URL:

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