The role of sustainable software engineering in building greener Earth

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The radius of the observable universe is approximately 46.508 billion light-years. The cosmic address for Earth is Earth, the Solar System, Oort Cloud, Local Fluff, Local Bubble, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, Laniakea Supercluster, Universe. Thus far, Earth is the only place known in the universe to harbor life. That is why we have no option but to protect Earth – our only home in the universe. 

The universe is estimated to be nearly fourteen billion years old. The first human ancestors appeared on Earth around six million years ago. Since then, we have considerably evolved in technology and ways of living. But unfortunately, this evolution in technology and ways of living have been gradually harming our planet. Notably, humans cannot continue living on Earth irresponsibly forever. Earth has a deadline after which it goes beyond its sustainability limit.

Understanding Sustainability

Sustainability is the ability for humans to co-exist with Earth’s biosphere without endangering the capability of future generations to meet their requirements. It is the symbiosis between economy, ecology, and social engagement.

Traditionally sustainability in the semiconductor industry has been accomplished by reducing greenhouse gases, utilizing renewable energy, decreasing equipment energy, and intelligent management of buildings.

Did you know that software can also contribute to sustainability? Let’s have a look.

Sustainable Software Engineering

Software is the backbone of all aspects of modern human life. It exists in our mobile phones, laptops, microwave ovens, and even in the car. Traditionally sustainability has not been associated with software until the emergence of Sustainable software engineering.

Sustainable software engineering is an evolving software discipline. It is at the crossing of software, hardware, electricity, and climate science, extending the responsibility of software engineering beyond technical and operational fields. It finds implementation across application domains, programming languages, architecture styles, and deployment approaches.  Some of the core characteristics of Sustainable software are-

Energy efficiency
  1. Energy efficiency – Sustainable software takes responsibility for the electricity it consumes. It is architected to consume as little energy as possible per unit of work. As an example, the design of sustainable software considers the distance data must travel across the network. It helps in improving software performance and also reduces the energy needs of the software system.
  2. Hardware efficiency – The creation and disposal of hardware are significant contributors to carbon pollution. In most cases, hardware is retired because of its inability to handle modern workloads. Sustainable software can run on old hardware and at times also contribute to improving the lifespan of the hardware. It avoids the need for hardware to retire.
  3. Carbon awareness – Sustainable software is carbon aware and can move workloads to different regions and times. It can move these workloads automatically or with the user’s inputs to optimally utilize renewable electricity and reduce carbon emissions.

Green philosophies

There are two beautiful philosophies at the heart of sustainable software engineering –   

  1. Everyone has a part to play – The traditional software development cycle has no focus on sustainability. Even the act of standardizing sustainability in technical discussions can go a long way in achieving sustainability. It is because everyone and everything is interconnected. Many small changes can lead to significant progress in sustainability goals.
  2. Sustainability makes for a great case – Sustainable software has many advantages. Sustainable software is almost always more economical and often more efficient. These make a solid case for businesses to build sustainable software. But the principal reason to build sustainable software is sustainability; everything else is an added advantage.

Sustainability @ Infineon

Infineon is proudly one of the most sustainable companies on planet Earth. We know how to make technical systems increasingly efficient and sustainable by using semiconductors. Also, we manufacture semiconductors in the most sustainable way possible. As software becomes increasingly significant to every aspect of Infineon’s business; Sustainable software engineering brings the promise of taking accelerated steps to further Infineon’s mission of building greener Earth.