Energy saving downloads with the Somniloquy

April 27, 2009 // 12:48 p.m.

Tags: #bittorrent #download #energy-saving #green #network #somniloquy #usb #wake-on-lan #wol

If you like the idea of keeping your PC in sleep mode in order to save money, but don't want to lose precious downloading time, researchers at the University of California at San Diego might just have an answer.

As reported over on Engadget, the research team, in collaboration with Microsoft Research, have developed a gadget they call the Somniloquy – literally “talking in your sleep.”

The device presents as a external USB network card to the host system, but is equipped with a range of smarts itself via an in-built processor and flash memory storage. Rather than simply sitting there dumb until the PC is switched back on, the Somniloquy is capable of using its in-built operating system to keep instant messaging connections live, continue to download via both straight protocols and BitTorrent, and maintain the host's DHCP lease on the local network.

When the device detects something exciting happening that it can't take care of itself, it sends a signal that wakes the computer up in order to deal with it. Rather cleverly, the Somniloquy has a trick up its sleeve to avoid having to use the hard drive all the time: the dongle is equipped with a SD card which buffers the download, only waking the hard drive when the storage gets full and needs to be dumped.

Although wake-on-LAN has been around for a while, the Somniloquy brings a certain amount of innovation to the table and, with claims that it can offer between 60 and 80 percent energy saving depending on your personal usage habits, it should please anyone who cares about the environment – or their electricity bills.

While the team's research was presented at USENIX last week, there has been no news yet on when – or if – we might see a commercialised version of the Somniloquy.

Could this be the saving grace for your ever-rising electricity bill, or is the Somniloquy a solution looking for a problem? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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