Why was the initiative started? (EN)

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Why was the initiative started? (EN)

The digital transformation of industry, government and society is well underway. As the famous inventor, software developer and investor Marc Andreessen pointed out in 2011: ‘Software is Eating the World’ - is a prediction that has become true in almost every aspect of business and life. However, the efficiency of the software itself was never a concern, it was more important to ‘eat’ more and more processes, systems, and industries with software at breathtaking speed. In the last decade, computer hardware was cheap compared to the time & costs of the software developers, leading to a philosophy of ‘adding more metal’ rather than spending more time on optimizing computer code.

From a social acceptance and technical feasibility point of view this approach has reached its limitations. The public and governments are increasingly questioning the environmental impact and resource consumption of the digital economy. And hardware itself has reached the limits of miniaturization and acceleration as exemplified by the end of Moore’s Law. Now, as we can see increasingly with Hyperscale data centers, we have no choice but to scale the infrastructure and amount of servers to reach new levels of performance.

But it all starts with software, its architecture and the developers who are writing the code. To create transparency around energy use and give developers tools to reduce the required energy of their software, the German government has launched a new project together with the SDIA. The project has been launched and is financed by the Federal Ministry of Economics in collaboration with the German Environment Agency and also involves the Öko-Institut e.V. which has already developed a methodology to measure energy use in software. The SDIA has further partnered with the VU Amsterdam’s Green Lab to ensure alignment across Europe.

In Short:

  • Software is consuming more and more resources
  • Mainly because simply adding hardware was cheaper than programming energy and resource-efficient code
  • Moore’s Law is slowing down and software inefficiencies can no longer be compensated by simply miniaturizing and accelerating the hardware
  • So-called “Software Bloating” is increasingly responsible for the high energy demands of software and thus providing software developers with tools to address this problem can save a lot of energy and resources
  • Therefore UBA has initiated this project which is financed by the BMWK in order to develop a methodology to assess the energy efficiency of code and provide a simple tool for software developers that they can embed into their development process