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UC San Diego Computer Scientists Tackle Annual Waste of 1.5 Billion Junked Smartphones

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Junked smartphones.

University of California San Diego researchers propose finding new life for relatively new consumer electronics by resurrecting billions of discarded devices and redeploying them as working processors.

Credit: UC San Diego Today

University of California, San Diego computer scientists have proposed a method for repurposing deactivated smartphones.

They developed the Computational Carbon Intensity metric to quantify the lifetime impact of computing and applied it to old servers, laptops, and smartphones.

The researchers determined that smartphones have the best potential for carbon impact, due to their vast quantity and valuable components, including powerful processors.

They found that most smartphones are used for just 2.5 years, despite the fact that their processors could last over a decade.

Although consumers are urged to recycle decommissioned smartphones, the researchers argue that recycling, like manufacturing, leaves a carbon footprint.

They said deactivated smartphones could be deployed as working processors, taking advantage of the unused 75% of the processors' lifespan without undertaking a carbon-intensive manufacturing process.

These used processors could find a second life as cloudlets for microservices for social media sites, or wildlife monitoring sensors, for example.

From University of California, San Diego
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Abstracts Copyright © 2023 SmithBucklin, Washington, D.C., USA


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