Collaborative Research: DESC: Type I: Extending lifetimes of partially broken machines to repurpose e-waste

Project: Research project

Project Details


The goal of this project is to improve sustainability of computing hardware by extending the lifetimes of computing equipment even when they start to partially break down. The carbon emissions from producing computing equipment is high and it is wasteful to simply throw away computers when most of the functionality may still work. Yet this is a common practice due to high diagnosis and repair costs. This project investigates a new approach where instead of repairing devices, the remaining working components are utilized as-is. Software systems are not designed to handle partially broken machines, so the investigators will develop new approaches for managing these partially broken machines, both for consumer-grade hardware and datacenter-grade hardware. One key component the investigators will focus on is Solid State Drives (SSDs), which by design will wear-out with use. By incorporating device age into scheduling decisions, this investigation will discover how to extend their effective lifetimes through intelligent age-aware scheduling and management. The results of this research will enable an alternative option for utilizing failing hardware instead of repair or disposal. Utilizing this otherwise useless equipment will provide additional compute capacity, which would reduce the amount of new hardware that needs to be produced. This fits within the Design for Environmental Sustainability in Computing (DESC) program where the focus is on the entire lifecycle of computing equipment and its corresponding environmental impact. Specifically, extending the lifetimes of computing equipment reduces the amount of equipment that needs to be produced, thereby lowering the associated carbon emissions and toxic byproducts from the manufacturing process. The investigators will engage with both industry and academic researchers to raise awareness of the problem and disseminate results, including incorporating sustainability topics in the curriculum at the investigators' respective institutions. The investigators will also involve undergraduates and high school students where applicable to allow for broader and more diverse participation in the research.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date9/15/238/31/26


  • National Science Foundation: $341,545.00


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