The energy costs of traditional computing

Interesting BBC piece by Chris Long on the power consumption of PCs.

Only recently have they become numerous enough to make an energy difference to our world, and more recently still, their power consumption has rocketed.

“In the mid 90s when the original Pentium processor was introduced, the average computer system could work with a 130/140 watt power supply, which is much lower that it is today,” said Scott Richards of computer component manufacturer Antec.

“The processor was probably 15 watts of consumption and the graphics cards was about 10 watts of consumption. Then you had your hard drive and your floppy drive, so even given the 10 or 20 percent headroom you need to operate the computer you could easily do a 130/140 watt power supply.

“Today we are selling power supply units at 1,200 watts.”

My feeling is that the article exaggerates the power consumption of today’s PCs, but the general point remains true — that PC-based networking architecture is enormously wasteful in energy terms. I’m astonished that companies don’t pay more attention to the power consumption of their office networks. This is even more important in the developing world, where electricity is not only hard to get, but often incredibly expensive. It’s a major selling point for our Ndiyo networking architecture.

And then there’s the even thornier question of the power requirements of server farms…

Thanks to Sumptuous for the link.