Some researchers at UC San Diego, teamed up with Microsoft Research, have a novel new method in the works to let your computer save on power in sleep mode while still keeping up with IMs and whatever other network activity you pesky folks might be up to. Dubbed "Somniloquy," the USB dongle acts as an external networking card, and takes over most of the communication duties, with its own embedded OS and flash memory (similar to the Killer NIC). When the computer goes to sleep, Somniloquy maintains IM connections, ongoing downloads and torrents, and keeps your computer present on the local network and wireless LAN. If an activity arrives that needs the full computer, Somniloquy wakes up the computer and patches it through -- going so far as to buffer downloads into flash memory, and then dump it periodically on to the hard drive. The wake-on network activity concept is nothing new, but Somniloquy really runs with it, and boasts up to 60 to 80 percent overall energy savings based on the person's usage habits. The device is currently in prototype stage, and in the future all its functionality could be integrated into a PC's network card -- and hopefully won't just be for the pros this time.

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