AI doesn’t have to be a power hog

July 30, 2020 by  
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AI doesn’t have to be a power hog Heather Clancy Thu, 07/30/2020 – 02:15 Plenty of prognostications, including this one from the World Economic Forum, tout the integral role artificial intelligence could play in “saving the planet.”  Indeed, AI is integral to all manner of technologies, ranging from autonomous vehicles to more informed disaster response systems to smart buildings and data collection networks monitoring everything from energy consumption to deforestation.  The flip side to this rosy view is that there are plenty of ethical concerns to consider. What’s more, the climate impact of AI — both in terms of power consumption and all the electronic waste that gadgets create — is a legitimate, growing concern. Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests the process of “training” neural networks to make decisions or searching them to find answers uses five times the lifetime emissions of the average U.S. car. Not an insignificant amount.  What does that mean if things continue on their current trajectory? Right now, data centers use about 2 percent of the world’s electricity. At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load, semiconductor firm Applied Materials CEO Gary Dickerson predicted in August 2019 . Although progress is being made, he reiterated that warning last week. At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load. “Customized design will be critical,” he told attendees of a longstanding industry conference, SemiconWest . “New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt.” So, what’s being done to “bend the curve,” so to speak? Technologists from Applied Materials, Arm, Google, Intel, Microsoft and VMware last week shared insights about advances that could help us avoid the most extreme future scenarios, if the businesses investing in AI technologies start thinking differently. While much of the panel (which I helped organize) was highly technical, here are four of my high-level takeaways for those thinking about harnessing AI for climate solutions. Get acquainted with the concept of “die stacking” in computing hardware design. There is concern that Moore’s Law , the idea that the number of transistors on integrated circuit will double every two years, is slowing down. That’s why more semiconductor engineers are talking up designs that stack multiple chips on top of each other within a system, allowing more processing capability to fit in a given space.  Rob Aitken, a research fellow with microprocessor firm Arm, predicts these designs will show up first in computing infrastructure that couples high-performance processing with very localized memory. “The vertical stacking essentially allows you to get more connectivity bandwidth, and it allows you to get that bandwidth at lower capacitance for lower power use, and also a lower delay, which means improved performance,” he said during the panel. So, definitely look for far more specialized hardware. Remember this acronym, MRAM. It stands for magnetic random-access memory , a format that uses far less power in standby mode than existing technologies, which require energy to maintain the “state” of their information and respond quickly to processing requests when they pop up. Among the big-name players eyeing this market: Intel; Micron; Qualcomm; Samsung; and Toshiba. Plenty of R&D power there. Consider running AI applications in cloud data centers using carbon-free energy. That could mean deferring the processing power needed for certain workloads to times of day when a facility is more likely to be using renewable energy. “If we were able to run these workloads when we had this excess of green, clean, energy, right now we have these really high compute workloads running clean, which is exactly what we want,” said Samantha Alt, cloud solution architect at Intel. “But what if we take this a step further, and we only had the data center running when this clean energy was available? We have a data center that’s awake when we have this excess amount of green, clean energy, and then asleep when it’s not.” This is a technique that Google talked up in April, but it’s not yet widely used, and it will require attention to new cooling designs to keep the facilities from running too hot as well as memory components that can respond dynamically when a facility goes in and out of sleep mode. New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt.   Live on the edge. That could mean using specialized AI-savvy processors in some gadgets or systems you’re trying to make smarter such as automotive systems or smart phones or a building system. Rather than sending all the data to a massive, centralized cloud service, the processing (at least some of it) happens locally. Hey, if energy systems can be distributed, why not data centers?  “We have a lot of potential to move forward, especially when we bring AI to the edge,” said Moe Tanabian, general manager for intelligent devices at Microsoft. “Why is edge important? There are lots of AI-driven tasks and benefits that we derive from AI that are local in nature. You want to know how many people are in a room: people counting. This is very valuable because when the whole HVAC system of the whole building can be more efficient, you can significantly lower the balance of energy consumption in major buildings.” The point to all this is that getting to a nirvana in which AI can handle many things we’d love it to handle to help with the climate crisis will require some pretty substantial upgrades to the computing infrastructure that underlies it. The environmental implications of those system overhauls need to be part of data center procurement criteria immediately, and the semiconductor industry needs to step up with the right answers. Intel and AMD have been leading the way, and Applied Materials last week threw down the gauntlet , but more of the industry needs to wake up. This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe here . Follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady. Pull Quote At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load. New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt. 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AI doesn’t have to be a power hog

5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer

September 21, 2017 by  
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As solar energy explodes in popularity, there are more solar … The post 5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer appeared first on Earth911.com.

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5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer

Elon Musk’s SolarCity Buys Panel Maker Silevo, in Talks to Build One of the World’s Largest Solar Panel Plants

June 19, 2014 by  
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Just after his radical announcement to open Tesla’s entire patent portfolio ,  Elon Musk is now making a major investment that could revolutionize the future of the solar energy industry. His rooftop solar panel installation company SolarCity just signed an agreement to acquire solar panel manufacturer Silevo for up to $350 million. As part of the deal, SolarCity is in talks with New York State to build a one gigawatt solar panel production plant in Buffalo that would be one of the world’s largest solar factories, creating more than 1,000 jobs within the next two years. Read the rest of Elon Musk’s SolarCity Buys Panel Maker Silevo, in Talks to Build One of the World’s Largest Solar Panel Plants Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “solar energy” , buffalo , elon musk , New York. , one gigawatt , Silevo , solar factory , solar panels , solar plant , solarcity

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Elon Musk’s SolarCity Buys Panel Maker Silevo, in Talks to Build One of the World’s Largest Solar Panel Plants

Waste House: UK’s First Permanent Carbon Negative Building Made From Trash

June 19, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Waste House: UK’s First Permanent Carbon Negative Building Made From Trash Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , bbm , brighton waste house , carbon negative , carbon negative building , duncan baker-brown , eco house , house made out of trash , sustainable design , trash house , university of brighton , Waste house , waster materials

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Waste House: UK’s First Permanent Carbon Negative Building Made From Trash

UN Climate Panel Cites 95 Percent Certainty that Humans are Responsible For Global Warming

August 23, 2013 by  
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A leaked draft of the  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ‘s next big climate report finds near unanimous certainty that greenhouse gas emissions from humans are primarily responsible for global warming. While their finding should surprise absolutely nobody, the 95 percent figure is, in fact, five percent higher than the one reached in the IPCC’s 2007 report. The United Nations panel also concludes that if emissions continue unabated, sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the end of the century, threatening major cities such as New York, Miami, London, Shanghai and Sidney. Read the rest of UN Climate Panel Cites 95 Percent Certainty that Humans are Responsible For Global Warming Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , climate report , global warming , greenhouse gas emissions , Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change        

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UN Climate Panel Cites 95 Percent Certainty that Humans are Responsible For Global Warming

Northwestern University Develops More Efficient Organic Solar Cell Using Algorithm Based On Natural Evolution

January 28, 2013 by  
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Solar Panel photo from Shutterstock

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Northwestern University Develops More Efficient Organic Solar Cell Using Algorithm Based On Natural Evolution

Print a Giant Wall Mural of Your Own Design Using PIXERS

January 28, 2013 by  
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Straight from the EU, PIXERS is a cool, new online store that can help you print up customized wall decor in any size. Whether you are looking for something that simply suits your style, like forest backdrop or a sparkling cityscape, or you have a design you’ve created from scratch, PIXER will turn that idea into a printed reality. All works can be made in variety of sizes (to your specifications) and on backings that are permanent or temporary. Check out their site for some design inspiration. + PIXERS The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cool wall paper , custom prints , custom wall paper , custom wall prints , designer wallpaper , diy wallpaper , pixers , Wall Decor , wall paper designs

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Print a Giant Wall Mural of Your Own Design Using PIXERS

Gorgeous Ceramic and Wood Cup Designs by Jorge Diego Etienne Keep Liquids at the Perfect Temperature

January 28, 2013 by  
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Here at Inhabitat we love the work of contributor Jorge Diego Etienne  — the designer behind this beautifully simple mug that harnesses natural heating and cooling properties. Working with Casa Bosques  and  Savvy Studio ,  Etienne  produced the Second Object design by taking inspiration from Japanese lacquered cups. The cup is a two-part piece consisting of a minimal hassle-free ceramic container that can hold hot liquid, and an encasing wooden vessel that disperses the heat. Read the rest of Gorgeous Ceramic and Wood Cup Designs by Jorge Diego Etienne Keep Liquids at the Perfect Temperature Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: casa bosques , japanese cups , Jorge Diego Etienne , nature inspired design , savvy studio , sustainable design

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Gorgeous Ceramic and Wood Cup Designs by Jorge Diego Etienne Keep Liquids at the Perfect Temperature

Golany Architects Unveils Plans for Sustainable New Centre for Higher Education in Ashdod, Israel

January 28, 2013 by  
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Israeli design firm Golany Architects recently unveiled plans for the new Centre for Higher Education in Ashdod , the fifth-largest city in Israel. The design of the building is based on colonnades with columns that support the growth of vines, referencing the Mediterranean region’s long tradition of using vine-covered pergolas to escape the heat. The building is enveloped with green walls, which serve the dual function of beautifying the building and making it more heat resistant. The site is surrounded by dense city fabric, and the green wall serves to distinguish it from its immediate urban environment. + Golany Architects The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “green wall” , “living wall” , Ashdod , Centre for Higher Education , Golany Architects , Israel , Sustainable Building , vines

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Golany Architects Unveils Plans for Sustainable New Centre for Higher Education in Ashdod, Israel

P&G Creates All-Star Panel for Sustainability Advice

April 16, 2010 by  
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On Thursday the consumer goods manufacturer announced the members who sit on its U.S. Sustainability Expert Advisory Panel, which helps the company evaluate future consumer-facing initiatives and offer advice on sustainability-oriented issues.

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P&G Creates All-Star Panel for Sustainability Advice

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