Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Cheaper PC, the Smaller PC, and the Greener PC

The computer industry is constantly producing smaller and cheaper machines. On the face of it that seems great, but is it really? What are the benefits or smaller/cheaper PCs? Furthermore, are they eco?

Let's see what we got; for starters, cheaper computers will invariably mean more computers, maybe a billion more by 2015; some think that demand will explode when an $80 dollar price point is hit, which is rapidly approaching. In energy terms, an efficient laptop uses about 25 watts of power; a desktop uses much more (call it 100 watts), which is roughly the power a human being on a 2200 calorie diet requires. So, in energy terms, adding a billion desktop PC is like adding a billion humans to the planet; adding a billion laptops is like adding 200 million. Can the planet afford those kind of resources? Probably not, without getting into the sticky situation of machines competing with humans for resources. So, cheaper computing will place more burdens on our ecosystems, and us.

How about smaller computers? It is doubtful that these would drive demand, but they might use fewer resources to create. Take for example the Space Cube, which claims to be the world's smallest PC. It measures just 2 x 2 x 2.2 inches, which is enough volume for 64 MB of SDRAM and a CPU that can go as fast as 300 MHz. Eco-wise, there are a few benefits but not many; the processor uses generally the same amount of resources to create, although you would save a bit on power consumption. And the SDRAM may be a little more eco-friendly to produce than a hard drive. The other items - keyboard, mouse, monitor - fall out of the equation, so a nix must be given to the 'smaller=more eco' hypothesis.:: KrisTV :: SciFi Tech

1 comment:

Marco F. said...

Thanks for remembering the importance of using computers properly in reducing pollution. Just one note: an important way to reduce this kind of pollution is to
choose software that can easily run on
such limited hardware. I have covered this
issue in "Does software pollute? Of course!"

Thanks again,