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New 'GreenWeb' to create energy-efficient web

Press Trust of India  |  Houston 

A new, open-source computer programming framework that could make the web significantly more energy efficient, allowing people to save more battery power while browsing on mobile devices, has been developed by researchers including one of Indian-origin.

Scientists developed what they are calling "GreenWeb," a set of web programming language extensions that enable web developers to have more flexibility and control than ever before over the energy consumption of a website.

"Because user awareness is constantly increasing, web developers today must be conscious of energy efficiency," said Vijay Janapa Reddi from University of Texas in the US.

"However, current web language standards provide developers little to no control over device energy use. We have taken an important step toward language-level research to enable energy-efficient mobile web computing," said Reddi.

Researchers integrated GreenWeb into Google Chrome and reported energy savings of 30 to 66 per cent over Android's default mode.

Mobile device users spend nearly two-thirds of their time browsing the web, so that amount of energy savings could result in a 20 to 40 per cent battery life extension, researchers said.

GreenWeb more efficiently guides the web browser engine to save processor energy without sacrificing user experience, they said.

The language extensions, implemented as CSS style rules, allow developers to express hints to the browser, which in turn conserves power when excessive computational horsepower is not necessary.

Researchers also developed AutoGreen, an automatic tool within the GreenWeb framework to assist developers in automatically making webpages energy-friendly.

The system continuously monitors hardware and browser execution behaviour to better understand how to maximise energy efficiency during interactive usage, researchers said.

The web's energy demands have big implications in the digital economy. Poor energy behaviour is a top reason that mobile users give negative app reviews, and 55 per cent of mobile users say they would delete an app for heavy battery usage, according to a survey by market research company Instantly.

Additionally, high energy requirements of a website or app could lead to processor performance throttling, which in turn leads to slower webpage load times, resulting in lost traffic or consumers and lost revenue, researchers said.

According to Reddi, there is a need for greater emphasis on improving web technology standards, making energy efficiency a priority for optimisation.

"Cavalierly sacrificing energy for performance is no longer an option. Webpages and apps are getting larger and increasing in complexity, putting more pressure on CPU and network resources for performance that draws power," he said.

The findings were published in the PLDI 2016 journal.

First Published: Fri, June 17 2016. 16:13 IST