Feeds

Computer energy use under scrutiny

Wind-up or solar powered PCs?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Well-honed phrases about cheaper and greater computing power have all but faded from the marketing, sales, and other promotional material of IT vendors and consultants to the sector.

Rising energy costs over the past year, as well as concerns about the scale of availability of energy in the short-term, especially over the winter period, and more strategically over the longer term, are encouraging enterprises to review their energy requirements for computing purposes. This historically somewhat dull subject is assuming an unheard of level of interest and importance.

Computer technology installations both large and small comprise many parts. Power consumption fluctuates so much depending on use that it is extremely difficult to calculate. As a very rough rule of thumb, the quieter a computer is, the lower the power consumption. This is because it is creating less heat, and therefore needs fewer fans to cool it. The main areas of consumption are power supply, high performance graphics cards, and processors. Screensavers do not save energy. Switching-off local printers and determining if computers have energy saving facilities help. Most operating systems will automatically switch the monitor into standby mode if left unused for a specified period of time, specifying the shortest time delay possible - five minutes is ideal.

Mid range desk computers uses between 200W and 300W depending on how hard they are working, but the high-end range can use over 400W, excluding monitors, speakers, printer, network, and other extraneous equipment. Moreover, most computers are excessively powerful for everyday use - something of a status symbol for many people? "Normal" office use of a computer with all the standard office applications, web browser and internet radio open only uses around five per cent of the processor.

Short-term efforts are focused on energy saving with computer installations. At a simple housekeeping level, for example, switching off computers overnight and at weekends, results in energy and cost savings of 70 per cent to 80 per cent. Equally, switching off your monitor when at lunch, or during periods of absence, can halve the energy consumption. Newer computers will also allow the hard-drive to "spin-down" if left idle. Some printers also have similar facilities. However, these procedures are, at best, only housekeeping measures; reminders of energy costs but doing little to combat the growing demand for computing power

Unfortunately, the demand for computing power is growing, encouraged by increasing commercial and recreational use of computer technology and the proliferation of devices using computer technology. How can computing power be contained rather than rationed for the growing demand? Some form of rationing or allocation solution will be the knee-jerk solution, unless an alternative solution is found.

One solution may be found in the analogy of the WEEE Directive, where the supplier has a legal responsibility for safe disposal: the supplier would be responsible for supplying a new and exclusive energy source for new and extended computer equipment, but not replacement equipment after a specified cut-off date.

This would encourage more and extensive research and development into efficient and cost effective sources of power by the hardware vendor community - be it generator, solar, battery or even wind-up power.

  • Applying the inventive intellect and innovative skills of the IT hardware developers to energy sources would be a powerful message to other industries to apply the same logic.
  • The IT hardware sector would provide a very powerful boost to investment in new, alternative and cost-effective energy sources, enabling it to influence creation and development of energy sources for commercial and social benefit.
  • The sector would be able to shake itself free from some elements of the commoditisation model into which it has evolved through maturity.
  • The sector's "social responsibility" rating would rise benefiting its governance profile and some investor ratings.
  • The sector would head-off potentially longer-term draconian energy restriction measures, which could restrict growth in the industry on a more permanent basis.

A more integrated approach to computing and its energy power and sources is essential if the industry to promote cheaper computing power transparently.

Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.