Research Report: Software allows PCs to work while they sleep


Personal computers used by large companies and institutions can save energy and money by “sleep-working,” thanks to software called SleepServer created by UCSD computer scientists. When a PC goes into low-power mode at night or over the weekend, SleepServer creates a lightweight virtual image of the system, which responds to network events on behalf of the sleeping PC. Hundreds of lightweight virtual images can populate a single commodity server.

Virtual PC images have pared down computation and memory resources and streamlined software applications called “stubs.” The ability to support applications, which continuously communicate information or perform data transfer over a network, using stubs, distinguishes SleepServer from other solutions aimed at providing smart power management for idle PCs.

In a peer-reviewed study, SleepServer was shown to reduce energy consumption on enterprise PCs previously running 24/7 by an average of 60 percent. The findings were presented at the 2010 USENIX Annual Technical Conference in Boston. News release



Better blood sugar control

In a recent study, adult and pediatric patients with Type 1 diabetes achieved better blood-sugar level control by using a sensor-augmented insulin pump compared to the most common approach to care today — multiple daily insulin injections. The Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute was one of 30 trial sites in the U.S. and Canada to participate in the research.

Carefully controlled blood-sugar levels are a goal of diabetes treatment and can improve patient health and long-term outcomes. Uncontrolled glucose levels in patients with diabetes can lead to short- and long-term complications, including shakiness, confusion, fainting, blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation. In rare instances, low blood-sugar levels can even cause death.

Results from the patient trial appear in The New England Journal of Medicine and were presented at the American Diabetes Association 70th Scientific Sessions. News release available



Gene and light

Light is so essential to the life of plants that two different systems have evolved to take advantage of solar energy. First, there are chloroplasts that turn sunlight into fuel via photosynthetic pigments. Second is a system of light-sensitive proteins called photoreceptors that use light as information to direct plant development, growth and other processes.

A team of researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Duke University have identified a gene — named Hemera, for the Greek goddess of daylight — which plays an important intermediary role between photoreceptors and chloroplasts. The discovery came after observing that mutant plants missing the gene are essentially “blind” to specific light spectra ranges. The plants, therefore, failed to develop chloroplasts, were albino, and died while still seedlings. The finding appears in the journal Cell. News release