Saving Energy

How to save energy. . .

With energy efficiency jumping up the list of priorities list of many IT procurement teams, it's important to think about what you can do to save energy with legacy equipment — and also get the most out of your newer, energy-leaner IT resources.
 
Research has shown that worldwide, fewer than 15% of PCs have their standby mode enabled. More than a third of these systems are left on overnight and over the weekend, costing around £50–£60 per year to power and releasing over 282Kg of CO2 in the process. Managing these resources strictly and efficiently is the key factor in saving energy.

Personal Computers

A standard PC (not including monitor) consumes roughly 130W – 150W and costs over £30 a year to run during normal operation (9 hours a day, 6 days a week). Quite simply, the only way to reduce the power consumption of this legacy kit is to enforce power saving policies across your network. The extremes in running costs for such an innocuous device are quite shocking. Left on 24 hours a day, the annual cost can peak at over £50 — where as if a power saving policy has been enforced, this can drop to as low as £10pa. Go to the resources page for free software to control the power management of the PCs on your network.
 
Why not hand out ‘Switch off’ stickers for your staff PCs and monitors? Simple reminders such as these set the right mind set within the organisation. Once people are thinking about power saving, they will start to act more responsibly towards energy issues.

Monitors

Amusing screensavers may look pretty, but have a negative impact on energy saving schemes. Screensavers were designed to protect old CRT monitors from ‘phosphor burn’, and had a purpose a long time ago. Today, most people use TFT panels and don’t require a screen saver — in fact screensavers burn MORE electricity by keeping the CPU utilisation up! Ban the use of screensavers.
 
Monitors spend a lot of their time staring at empty chairs. This is an unfortunate waste of resources, as it is easily restricted. Configure Windows to shut off the monitor after 5 minutes of inactivity. Tell staff to turn their monitor off during lunch and at night. Go to the resources page for free software to control the power management of the monitors on your network.
 
An older 17" CRT monitor will consume around 120W of power, costing about £27 a year to run, compared to a 38W 17" TFT which will cost around £8.50. Larger CRT monitors are even worse — get your CRTs recycled and deploy TFTs.

New Technology

Viglen is proudly leading the race for new technology and initiatives designed to drive down IT energy consumption. When purchasing new IT equipment, make sure you ask for full details on power consumption so you can compare solutions from suppliers. This summer, Viglen will be launching an EQ range of PCs that have the latest Energy Star certification for low energy usage. This is a stringent set of rules that a PC must pass, guarantying the customer they are getting a PC that is exceptionally energy efficient.
 
Here are some current technologies to help reduce energy costs:

Intel® Core™ 2 Duo

The new flagship CPU from Intel® is their most efficient ever, boasting 40% more performance but also 40% less power consumption. Because the new design is so efficient (performing more calculations per ‘clock cycle’), it can run at a much slower GHz, reducing the power requirements. This reduction in clock speed means the maximum power consumption of the processor is 65W (as opposed to the 130W+ of previous generations). The built in mobile technologies also shut down parts of the CPU when not required, bringing down consumption even further. This power efficiency has knock on effects also, for instance the CPU runs so cool, the PC is a lot quieter because slower case fans can be utilised. Going for the new Core™ 2 Duo architecture is a fast and simple way of slashing your power requirements.

 
‘80 PLUS’ Power Supply Units

The PSU (Power Supply Unit) in your computer converts AC power from the mains into the DC power required for the internal electronics. Becuase of the flexible nature of PCs, it is very difficult for a manufacturer to supply a ‘balanced’ PSU with a PC as the user may upgrade the CPU and RAM after buying it — still expecting the PSU to be up to the job. Not all PSUs are the same, and some low cost power supplies can be very inefficient when converting the AC to DC.

 
The 80 PLUS performance specification requires power supplies in computers and servers to be 80% or greater energy efficient at 20%, 50% and 100% of rated load with a true power factor of 0.9 or greater. Although 80 PLUS power supplies are more expensive, they are far more efficient than normal power supplies, saving you ££’s over the life time of the PC. All Viglen Energy Star ‘EQ’ PCs come with an 80 Plus PSU as standard. Go to the resources page for more information on 80 Plus.

Faster boot up times

Staff will often leave their PC on overnight because they don’t want to have to wait for the PC to boot up in the morning — this is true also over lunch breaks, meetings etc. In academic environments, the teacher doesn’t want to lose 5 minutes or so at the beginning of a class because all of the PCs are booting up. Smart caching technologies are now being introduced on Hard Disks and Motherboards that rapidly decrease this boot up time. Low cost, non-volatile ‘flash’ RAM is installed on the HD or motherboard, and is used to store chunks of the Operating System required every time you boot up from cold or hibernation mode. Flash RAM is hundreds of times faster than any Hard Disk, so boot up times are much quicker.
 
This technology also saves power, as the cache buffers data to be written to the hard disk later, minimising unnecessary disk accesses — your Hard Disk can power down until it’s required later. This is typical of mobile technolgies filtering into the desktop products to cut energy costs.