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The Icon Bar: Programming: The environmental cost of software
 
  The environmental cost of software
  adrianl (08:56 8/12/2018)
  Elesar (16:48 8/12/2018)
    Phlamethrower (18:20 8/12/2018)
      adrianl (01:27 9/12/2018)
        Phlamethrower (12:03 9/12/2018)
 
Adrian Lees Message #124401, posted by adrianl at 08:56, 8/12/2018
Member
Posts: 1577
Anyone ever wonder about this, or read anything about it? I'd be interested in reading any efforts at estimating it.

It's something I think about; if software can be massively speeded up because it's performing a lot of redundant computation, and/or using poor algorithms, then it must be using a lot more cycles and thus electrical power than necessary.

If I'm honest, I think even most programmers are not really suited to expressing the 'how' of solving a problem, and it would be great if we were able to offload that responsibility to the computer itself, but it's a massively complex - combinatorially explosive - problem to find the shortest sequence of operations to compute a particular result, even without considering alternative approaches.
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Robert Sprowson Message #124402, posted by Elesar at 16:48, 8/12/2018, in reply to message #124401
Member
Posts: 11
Anyone ever wonder about this, or read anything about it? I'd be interested in reading any efforts at estimating it.
Not directly, but an article from the Guardian a few years ago sticks in mind for how much energy is wasted processing spam email.

If only the power could be harvested for good...
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Jeffrey Lee Message #124403, posted by Phlamethrower at 18:20, 8/12/2018, in reply to message #124402
PhlamethrowerHot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot stuff

Posts: 15068
Save the planet, ban cryptocurrency.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/11/07/cryptocurrency_mining_energy/
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Adrian Lees Message #124404, posted by adrianl at 01:27, 9/12/2018, in reply to message #124403
Member
Posts: 1577
Save the planet, ban cryptocurrency.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/11/07/cryptocurrency_mining_energy/
Thanks both.

Yes, I've read of the cost of crypto-mining in the past. I wonder if that was anticipated by the creators of the first (few) cryptocurrencies.

It's a shame really, because superficially one might have thought that a purely digital/virtual currency ought to have a lower environmental cost than mining and forging metals etc.
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Jeffrey Lee Message #124405, posted by Phlamethrower at 12:03, 9/12/2018, in reply to message #124404
PhlamethrowerHot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot stuff

Posts: 15068
I think the thing that annoys/baffles me the most about bitcoin and other similar crypto currencies is that the expensive computations that are used to "mine" the coins and perform transactions have no value to society. They're just computationally expensive for the sake of being computationally expensive. Compared to traditional currencies (rare metals) they have no intrinsic value - metals are useful because they're used in manufacturing, or because we think they look nice as jewellery. Bitcoin is useful for neither.

Why couldn't digital currencies be based around calculations that are useful to society, like protein folding, processing space data for SETI/asteroid detection, testing the strength of encryption methods, etc.?
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The Icon Bar: Programming: The environmental cost of software