Energy-efficient computing is important in several systems ranging from embedded devices to large scale data centers. Several application domains offer the opportunity to tradeoff quality of service/solution (QoS) for improvements in performance and reduction in energy consumption. Programmers sometimes take advantage of such opportunities, albeit in an ad-hoc manner and often without providing any QoS guarantees.
We propose a system called Green that provides a simple and flexible framework that allows programmers to take advantage of such approximation opportunities in a systematic manner while providing statistical QoS guarantees. Green enables programmers to approximate expensive functions and loops and operates in two phases. In the calibration phase, it builds a model of the QoS loss produced by the approximation. This model is used in the operational phase to make approximation decisions based on the QoS constraints specified by the programmer. The operational phase also includes an adaptation function that occasionally monitors the runtime behavior and changes the approximation decisions and QoS model to provide strong QoS guarantees.
To evaluate the effectiveness of Green, we implemented our system and language extensions using the Phoenix compiler framework. Our experiments using benchmarks from domains such as graphics, machine learning, and signal processing, and a real-world web search application, indicate that Green can produce significant improvements in performance and energy consumption with small and statistically guaranteed QoS degradation.