The concept of "Energy-Proportional Computing" has the aim of reducing the energy use of the computer system in proportion to the useful work it is doing. Usually applied to servers, including web servers, the idea is that a lightly loaded server should use less power than a heavily loaded one. This is an alternative to the strategy of virtual servers, when the real server is loaded with many tasks to keep it busy and thus running efficiently.
Some papers on this are:
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