Wednesday, November 21, 2007

VIA Technologies into Green Computing

VIA Technologies, a Taiwanese company that manufactures motherboard chipsets, CPUs, and other computer hardware, introduced its initiative for "green computing" in 2001. With this green vision, the company has been focusing on power efficiency throughout the design and manufacturing process of its products. Its environmentally friendly products are manufactured using a range of clean-computing strategies, and the company is striving to educate markets on the benefits of green computing for the sake of the environment, as well as productivity and overall user experience.

Carbon-free computing
One of the VIA Technologies’ ideas is to reduce the "carbon footprint" of users — the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide (CO2). Greenhouse gases naturally blanket the Earth and are responsible for its more or less stable temperature. An increase in the concentration of the main greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorocarbons — is believed to be responsible for Earth's increasing temperature, which could lead to severe floods and droughts, rising sea levels, and other environmental effects, affecting both life and the world's economy. After the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the world has finally taken the first step in reducing emissions. The emissions are mainly a result of fossil-fuel-burning power plants. (In the United States, such electricity generation is responsible for 38 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions.) VIA aims to offer the world's first PC products certified carbon free, taking responsibility for the amounts of CO2 they emit. The company works with environmental experts to calculate the electricity used by the device over its lifetime, generally three years. From this data, one can conclude how much carbon dioxide the device will emit into the atmosphere during its operation. This estimate will serve as an indicator, and the company will pay regional organizations for the “sequestering,” or offsetting, of the emissions. Offsetting carbon dioxide can be achieved in different ways. One way is to plant trees that absorb CO2 as they grow, in the region in which the processors were purchased. The necessary amount of trees per processor is represented by VIA's TreeMark rating system.

In addition, VIA promotes the use of such alternative energy sources as solar power, so power plants wouldn't need to burn as much fossil fuels, reducing the amount of energy used. Wetlands also provide a great service in sequestering some of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Although they make up only 4 to 6 percent of the Earth's landmass, wetlands are capable of absorbing 20 to 25 percent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide. VIA is working closely with organizations responsible for preserving wetlands and other natural habitats, and others who support extensive recycling programs for ICT equipment. The amount paid to these organizations will be represented by a proportion of the carbon-free product’s price.

Carbon-emissions control has been a key issue for many companies who have expressed a firm commitment to sustainability. Dell is a good example of a company with a green image, known for its free worldwide product-recycling program. Dell’s Plant a Tree for Me project allows customers to offset their carbon emissions by paying an extra $2 to $4, depending on the product purchased. AMD, a global microprocessor manufacturer, is also working toward reducing energy consumption in its products, cutting back on hazardous waste and reducing its eco-impact. The company’s use of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology in its manufacturing, and strained silicon capping films on transistors (known as “dual stress liner” technology), have contributed to reduced power consumption in its products.