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Reducing World of Warcraft's Power Consumption

Taiwanese researchers' special take on virtualization means far fewer servers and less energy

3 min read

19 August 2010—Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft consume a lot of their players' time. They also consume a lot of energy, as more than a thousand servers can be required to create one game's virtual worlds. Last year, Yeng-Ting Lee, a 26-year-old online game fanatic, began to wonder if there was an easy way to reduce their energy consumption. Lee, who is a research assistant at the Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica, in Taipei, Taiwan, says he has found a way to cut MMORPG power consumption in half. Last month he revealed the solution at the IEEE Cloud 2010 conference.

The computing needs of online gaming firms can be hard to meet. MMORPGs' hourly and daily workloads fluctuate widely, because many people don't or can't play during work hours or on weekdays, and each firm often plays host to several games at once.

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read
Image of a computer rendering.

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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