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Green Computing

Date: September 21, 2012 Author: Stephan Buys Category: Green Computing Reviews Technology Tags: Comments: 0

NSIS Systems take on Green Computing

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Green computing helps the bottom line and the environment.
Green computing* was originally conceived as “designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems (monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems) efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment.” The goals were to reduce the use of hazardous materials, maximize energy efficiency, and promote the recyclability of obsolete products and factory waste. In other words, computing that was environmentally sustainable.

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Those goals are still topical—recently, 400,000-plus Facebook users recently petitioned the company to use more renewables. But the term green computing has also come to embrace financial benefits, specifically, lower energy bills. As experience in the construction industry shows—it’s now commonplace for buildings to be rated on energy efficiency; a move that was initiated not by environmentalists but by property developers seeking a better ROI—smart business decisions can also be good for the environment.

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Green computing definition

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“Experts generally define green computing as having four aspects: design, manufacturing, use and disposal.”
Experts generally define green computing as having four aspects: design, manufacturing, use and disposal. Manufacture and disposal account for 70% of the natural resources used in a PC’s life cycle; so how does a typical business not involved in either of them, or in computer design, gain the financial and environmental benefits of green computing?

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The answer is to prolong the lifetime of your hardware and minimize the energy required to run it.
Upgrade instead of replace PCs. Manufacturing a new PC makes a far bigger ecological footprint than manufacturing a new RAM module to upgrade an existing one. Where possible, improve your existing HW with new operating systems, RAM upgrades and the like. If you must replace, buy a reconditioned PC for routine tasks.
Be as energy efficient as possible. Before buying a computer power supply unit (PSU), check the 80 PLUS*** certification for PSUs that are more than 80% energy efficient at various increments of rated load: those PSUs waste 20% or less electric energy as heat at the specified load levels, reducing electricity bills compared to less efficient PSUs. Consider following the ACPI** (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) open industry specification for power management and thermal management of mobile, desktop, and server platforms. Actively manage the power settings on network power supply equipment and on PC and device operating systems. Set sleep mode to kick in after a reasonable amount of time (do you really need to be paying for all those PCs to be fully on while the staff is out at lunch? Run batch processing overnight at cheaper electricity rates.

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Green computing cuts costs

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A couple of interesting facts that might be hurting your bottom line.
CRT monitors use double the power used by LCDs. CRTs burn energy.
The #1 Power hungry app in a PC is a video card. Fast GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) also eat energy.
You can manage and reduce these and other avoidable costs by:
Setting the CRT monitor settings to sleep quickly when not in use and making sure all staff turn their PCs off when out of the office and at night.
Replacing CRTs with LCDs as soon as financially feasible (it’s the one exception to upgrade-don’t-replace). Some estimates are that LCDs save £100 each in energy costs over 3 years, so a company with 200 PCs with CRTs can save £20,000 by switching to LCDs.
Selecting your PCs GPUs based on low idle power, average wattage, or performance per watt, not on blazing video speed (unless your staff really need to watch cinema quality video in the office).
Consider buying PCs without a video card altogether. Instead, use a shared terminal, shared thin client, or desktop sharing software connecting multiple PCs to one with a video card. Or, use the motherboard video output—typically low in 3D performance, but consumes less power.
For all the above, talk to your IT services provider. They should be able to customize equipment for you, or recommend someone who can.
For larger companies, other in-house initiatives that will reduce power consumption include virtualization and terminal servers, and promoting telecommuting/remote working.

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In an era of endlessly inflating energy prices, all companies, large and small, can find real bottom line benefits from adopting one or other aspect of green computing.
* The term was probably coined after the launch of several major energy efficiency recognition and promotion initiatives in 1992. One was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star voluntary labelling program aimed at buildings, computers and other technologies; another was Sweden's TCO Development Certification program aimed at reducing electromagnetic emissions from computer displays.
**ACPI was co-developed by Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Phoenix and Toshiba, and was first published in 1999.
*** 80 PLUS was developed by Ecos.

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