How Green Is Your Computer?
Published Dawn, Images, July 13th, 2009
These days it’s hard to move anywhere without being urged to make ‘green’ changes in your lifestyle. To answer these consumer trends, computer manufacturers worldwide have embarked to align business concerns with the broader issue of greening the environment. There is
cause for concern. IT’s CO2 emissions have been estimated to be at 2 percent of the world’s total, thus the entire community is waking up to the challenge of sustainable development.
At the manufacturing level, leading firms such as HP especially are improving their processes, accounting for environmental impact, operational impact and end-of-life impact for their full range of products. They try to do this by minimizing harm ‘before’ use by employing cleaner, leaner sourcing and manufacturing techniques, by designing products that consume less energy and materials ‘during’ use and helping with reuse and recycling ‘after’ use. This is why the new devices (esp. based on Intel Atom Chipsets) are highly energy efficient and form factors across the board have been reduced greatly.
Corporations too are joining this trend, as being green serves the twin advantages of catering to consumer sentiments and business profitability. One way businesses are becoming greener e.g. are via using ‘thin-clients’. This is a setup where you have a low-power device on your desktop instead of a PC Processor box and all the work takes place at a central server or data center. This can take a lot of hassle out of desktop computing (and resulting maintenance, upkeep, etc), increases security (since all updates are at the center), is economical and requires minimal upgrades, since the average life-span of such a setup is around 8 years.
Another area enterprises are addressing is their servers. It has been estimated that worldwide most servers never run beyond 30% of their capacity and though more powerful than desktop machines, this is not utilizing them for their full potential. To address this challenge, virtualization software has been introduced which allows centers to double the amount of work done by the same servers. This allows businesses to halve the total number of devices and decrease environmental impact as well.
Green IT is also taking place at home e.g. a standard PC can consume around 350 watts (that’s ~1800 watts for 6 hours usage daily @ a minimal Rs. 7.5 per KW). With increasing awareness & electricity prices, consumers are now investing in products which use
less power, give off less heat and are recyclable or made of renewable materials like bamboo. These include new forms such as netbooks, ‘All In One PCs’, Ultra-portables and ECO PCs (less than 100 Watts consumption). There’s also a side benefit to this. Unlike traditional devices, these products fit anywhere in the home.