HP to reduce PC energy consumption by a quarter
Industry asks: But how?
HP's ambitious plan to slash energy consumption in its PCs by 25 per cent by 2010 has been greeted with scepticism in some quarters.
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas the computer firm proclaimed its intent to cut the carbon footprint of its desktop and notebook PCs by adopting more efficient power supplies and lower energy chipsets and processors.
HP also boasted that it had more Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) "gold" products than any rival. EPEAT is a voluntary US environmental performance standard for computers.
IT analyst firm Ovum said it is admirable to see a big multinational tech company "taking a lead", but reckoned HP, along with other PC vendors, has a lot of catching up to do to become more environmentally friendly.
"Reducing energy consumption by 25 per cent by 2010 is good, but needs to be tempered by the fact that in 2005 PCs with their big, fat Intel chips were at their most gas-guzzling. And all those new PCs available by 2010 will simply add to the PC mountain," said Ovum.
Rival PC makers are also sceptical. A spokesman for Lenovo told El Reg that 25 per cent reduction was "a great objective", but said it was hard to imagine how HP could deliver that goal.
When asked if Lenovo could offer up its own impressive percentage on reducing energy consumption in its products, the spokesman said: "Clearly we have our own objectives in terms of what we would call green IT [including ditching PVC in all Lenovo products by 2009], but we wouldn't want to commit to a definitive figure."
The Register asked HP to comment on the lukewarm response it had received from competitors and analysts. We also requested an explanation of how its 25 per cent goal was attainable within two years. The vendor is yet to return our call. ®
85% by 2010...how about NOW?
Wow, HP is looking to increase power efficiency to 85% by 2010. Today’s power supplies - at least the ones Dell is using - are already running about 80% to 85%. By my estimations, this translates to about 25% less power use. So companies talking about 85% power efficiency by 2010 haven't been paying much attention to the efficiency gains made by the rest of the industry, and more importantly are pretty much behind the curve.
Am I missing something here?
Only sell low end machines.
I can see this easily happening. All they have to do is only sell low end machines.This is all that 90% of the users need anyways so no big deal.
easy fix for how soon we forget the old P3 class which ran between 20 to 30 watts !
@ Dunstan Vavasour: "transformers"
"Do laptops still have transformers? I thought pretty much all consumer electronics today has switch mode power supplies?"
This may be just a terminology problem. Switch-mode power supplies still contain transformers - just much smaller ones because you can get a higher energy throughput if you increase the frequency you send them from the 50 or 60Hz that's supplied by the mains. But I think the commentator meant power supplies generally.
Switch-mode *regulation* is the big efficiency gain - instead of getting the right voltage under differing conditions by a varying resistance, giving off a lot of heat (linear regulation), you only supply what's required by switching the supply on and off very quickly. Switch-mode power supplies do this inherently, but you can also add a switch-mode regulator to the output of a conventional transformer if you want. There's no point in doing this nowadays because the saving in copper and iron (with their associated space and weight) more than outweighs the cost of the high-voltage components needed to make a switch mode power supply. So everyone uses switch mode nowadays.
There is often quite a large scope for improvement in the efficiency of switch-mode power supplies by using more sophisticated designs, using more and/or more expensive components. As has been pointed out, the disadvantage of a inefficient supply, apart from its wastefulness, is its heat generation. The heat has to be got rid of. In a desktop computer it's cheaper to make a horribly inefficient supply and bolt on a fan to get rid of the heat than it is to make an efficient supply. Putting a fan in a laptop power supply makes it larger and less reliable, so these designs are more efficient to avoid needing a fan. Couple this with the efficiency of the laptop itself, both for battery life and heat dissipation reasons, and a laptop does a lot better than a desktop PC. By putting more laptop technology into desktop PCs (as is already happening with CPUs) you can get quite a gain for not much pain.
@ Matt Bryant
".... but then IBM stuffed up their PC bizz, admitted defeat and flogged it to the Chinese!"
Course they did. I mean, I wouldn't want to question your obviously superior intellect, but isn't there a small possibility that IBM might have decided that PCs and laptops are commodity items, and therefore didn't fit in with IBM core strategy? As opposed to 'stuffing it up', as you so eloquently put it?