Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Energy Saving Computer

The modern computer is not as efficient as it could be. With the demands for performance, manufacturers like Intel and AMD are thinking, 'how can I build the fastest processor without overheating the system?' What they should be thinking is how can we make an efficient processor that runs fast while using less energy. The technology has already been created for laptops. Since laptops have to be able to run an a battery, they are designed to be as efficient as possible. For this reason laptops are 90% more efficient than a desktop computer. Sure the performance is weaker on the laptop but that will soon change. Todays laptops are way faster than the average desktop five years ago.

If you are in the market for a new computer consider Intel's new Core2 Duo or Quarto processors they are currently the most energy efficient ones out there, AMD's are usually less efficient and they can get really hot. Not good, unless you need your computer to contribute to the heating of your home. To illustrate my point just think about the difference between the Mustang and Porch sport cars. AMD computers are like the Ford Mustangs, big heavy fast engine. The Intel is fast too but like Porch they are light and have a smaller but highly powerful engine.

I shouldn't bad mouth AMD processors too much, they are getting better. To compete with Intel they are trying to find better ways of being more efficient.

The processor is an important part of having an energy saving computer, however, there are other things to consider as well.

The first is the screen saver. Studies has shown that the screen saver uses the same amount of energy than if the screen was left on. The screen saver was designed to 'save' the screen from damage, Not to save energy. For the older computers if an image was left on the screen for long periods of time the image would be 'burnt' into the monitors. Screen savers kept the image moving so that there would be no permanent damage. Todays monitors don't have this problem. You could leave an image on your screen for a long time and nothing would damage it. I'm not saying screen savers are bad, just that they don't do anything to save energy.

Another common myth about computer energy is the old Hard Drive. Some people believe that a computer will use less energy if left on as opposed to being turned on and off all the time. It was advised back in the 80's to leave your computer on because the hard drives couldn't tolerate the on/off cycles, not because they used less energy. Today, computer manufacturers design hard drives to withstand a minimum of 20,000 on/off cycles. So don't be afraid to turn off your computer, it won't hurt it, in fact it will prolong the life of your computer by using it less.

The best thing to do is to have your computer configured to 'sleep' or 'stand-by'. I love my laptop because all I have to do is close it up and it automatically goes into standby. Before you finish for the day your computer will save the most energy by being shut down. It uses the least amount of energy and it ensures that no one has been using it. Plus, computers will benefit from being refreshed once in a while.

Src: http://www.hugg.ca/the-energy-saving-computer-013124.php