Sleep Mode - which goes under the name standby, sleep or suspend depending on the operating system in use - has been created to save energy in situations where a computer system does not perform active calculations.
The operating system will power down most of the connected hardware devices except for the computer memory which is being used to restore the previous state once the computer ends sleep mode.
The unresponsiveness of computer systems that are in sleep mode made it impracticable for certain situations that require fast or even real-time responses. The list includes being available in messaging and voice over IP / video call scenarios, remote access, being connected to a computer network, and others.
Sleep Talking, a new system that is called internally Somniloquy, has been designed by computer scientists at UC San Diego and Microsoft Research.
It combines the energy saving benefits of sleep mode with the responsiveness of awake mode. An USB prototype has been created that acts as a low end computer system impersonating the host computer on the network.
The prototype comes with the ability to wake the host computer system if necessary. This can be to accept incoming calls using voice over IP, or a P2P download that filled the internal flash memory of the USB prototype so that the content has to be written to the host computer system.
Tests that the researchers conducted resulted in power savings between 60 and 80 percent depending on the use model compared to idle state which is quite significantly.
Somniloquy's low-power secondary processor functions at the PC's network interface. It runs an embedded operating system and impersonates the sleeping PC to other hosts on the network.
Somniloquy will wake up the PC over the USB bus if necessary. For example, during a movie download, when the flash memory fills up, Somniloquy will wake up the PC and transfer the data. When the transfer is complete, it will go back to sleep mode and Somniloquy will again impersonate the computer on the network.
Improving sleep mode is always welcome, especially in business environments but also for consumers. The one downside to the technique is that devices need to be upgraded to include the component either as a standalone card or on the motherboard or other PC hardware.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.