Friday, November 30, 2007

Clean and Green receives cleanup award

The Clermont 20/20 Clean and Green Program received a second place award in the Great American Cleanup Project at the recent Keep Cincinnati Beautiful "Just Desserts" event. The award was in recognition of the successful Clean and Green Spring Litter Pickup that was held in April. The award was presented by Brad Lindner, president of United Dairy Farmers, and Chris Monzel, Cincinnati City Council.

The purpose of the "Just Deserts" event is to recognize the work done by volunteers and communities in their effort to reduce or eliminate litter and to complete beautification projects. This year's event was sponsored by United Dairy Farmers and Heidelberg Distributing and hosted by H.J. Benken Florist and Greenhouse.

"I would like to recognize and thank the 14 Clermont County community captains who worked very hard to ensure that the Spring Litter Pickup would be a big success this year: Mark Menz, Rex Parsons, Mike Shiverski, Nancy Middleton, Barb Hertzer, Susan Ellerhorst, Lynn Baird, Dan Stauft, Theresa Brown, Patti Bates, Mark McIlrath, Gene Williams, Wendy Smith and Connie Taggart. They did a tremendous job of coordinating the efforts in their communities where 617 volunteers collected 985 bags of litter and 61 bags of recycling," said Becky Ploucha, director of the Clermont 20/20 Clean and Green Program. "We also partnered with Cincinnati Computer Cooperative to add the Computer Reuse/Recycling event to the Spring Litter Pickup, which made the event even more significant. About 780 computer components were dropped off at the Computer Reuse/Recycling staging area at Mark Williams Beechmont Ford."

Read more!

Zonbu goes mobile with green notebook computer

Silicon Valley company Zonbu has recently announced its newest product: a green laptop that comes with a hassle-free service plan, which includes online tech support and automatic updates.
The Zonbu laptop starts at $279, and the service plan costs an additional $15 per month. Additional features of the service include 20 software applications, online storage, remote file access, file sharing, automated backup, and free replacement warranty as long as you're a member. With this service plan, Zonbu is aiming at a family audience, and suggests the laptop might be ideal for younger children or anyone who doesn´t like to struggle with computer problems.

The laptop runs on Zonbu's OS software, a user-friendly interface that includes see-through menus, which is also highly secure and immune to Windows viruses. Conveniently, the system also enables remote access to your files from anywhere on the Internet, with nothing to set up.

Besides being easy to use, the laptop is also rated highly by the Green Electronics Council for its energy efficiency. The device uses recycled plastics, contains no dangerous chemicals such as lead, and Zonbu offers free recycling of the device. In this sense, the laptop shares similarities with the Zonbu PC released this past summer. As the world´s smallest desktop (5" x 6.5" x 2"), the Zonbu PC has local/remote hybrid storage that saves up to 90% in energy costs, with a starting price of $99.

Unlike the PC, the Zonbu laptop isn't ultra-tiny. Weighing in at 5.3 pounds (2.4 kg), it has a 15.4" widescreen (1440 x 900), a 1.5 GHz processor, 512 MB of memory, and 60 GB of hard disk local storage. The laptop also comes with built-in wifi, broadband-ready Ethernet, three USB ports, and a CD/DVD burner.

More information:

Read more!

Climate Savers Launches Green Computer Catalog

Having trouble finding a new server or desktop PC that takes it easy on the juice and minimizes the impact on global warming? Then you might want to check out a new online product catalog launched this week by Climate Savers Computing Initiative that provides a list of IT equipment that meets the group's efficiency guidelines.

Climate Savers was created this summer by a consortium of vendors, including Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, with the goal of reducing computers' electricity consumption by 50 percent by 2010. It also hopes to encourage computer and component manufacturers to build products that meet new Energy Star energy efficiency guidelines.

Publishing the online catalog is a way to help IT equipment buyers become more aware of the green computing options on the market, according to Climate Savers. Currently, the catalog contains more than 300 compliant products, including servers, PCs, laptops, motherboards, power supplies, power supply components, and power management software.

The catalog includes Primergy servers from Fujitsu-Siemens, ProLiant servers from HP, a server from Quanta, the Taiwanese computer maker, and about 70 server configurations from Super Micro Computer, a computer maker based in San Jose, California.

"This new catalog showcases some of the energy efficient products available today so that individuals and IT departments can make smarter computing choices," says Matthew Guyer, director of corporate relations for the World Wildlife Fund, which is closely affiliated with Climate Savers.

Read more!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Toshiba plants trees for greener PCs

There are a limited number of ways a computer firm can go green, and by far the most popular option is signing up to tree-planting schemes. And now, Toshiba has followed the likes of Dell and PC World, and given anyone buying a new laptop the chance to pay a sum of £1.18 to make their purchase a 'carbon zero' one. The trees planted to achieve this, they say, will be native broad-leafed trees, in a new developing woodland called Sand Martin Wood in Cumbria. To find out how to get your hands on a carbon zero computer, there's more info here.

Other computer firms have done to reduce their carbon footprints:

1) RM is focusing on electricity consumption to make its gadgets greener, and has developed a lower-energy PC called the EcoQuiet.

2) HP is tackling the green challenge from an employee perspective. In other words, your PC may consume a lot of energy when you get it home, but at least you'll know that workers in HP plants and offices are being encouraged to recycle and save energy as part of a 'carbon footprint challenge.'

3) IBM is taking quite a holistic approach to reducing its carbon emissions. It launched a billion dollar programme earlier in the year aimed at increasing energy efficiency at its data centres, as well as a separate green programme that looked at making improvements off-site.

4) Apple crawled back into Greenpeace's good books in the summer, when it was ranked as the 'most imrpoved' tech company this year in the organisation's guide to greener electronics. This reflects a lot of hard work by Steve Jobs et al in the Greener Apple pledge.

5) Dell remains the highest-ranked computer firm in the Greenpeace list.

Read more!

CallWave Virtual Fax Helps Corporate America Go Green

CallWave, Inc. today announced the availability of CallWave Virtual Fax. Designed so users can conveniently send and receive faxes right from their computer, CallWave Virtual Fax provides corporations, mobile professionals and entrepreneurs with a new user-friendly, affordably-priced, environmentally-conscious communications solution. With CallWave’s Eco-Friendly Virtual Fax, Businesses Save Money, Time and the Environment

“Faxing is an essential part of office activities, but the traditional faxing process has surprisingly negative impacts on our environment – wasting paper, killing trees and emitting toxic particles and gases into the atmosphere,” said Jeff Cavins, Chief Executive Officer of CallWave. “With CallWave Virtual Fax, professionals can quickly and easily communicate – while saving paper, toner and energy. Easy-to-use, cost-effective and green, CallWave Virtual Fax is a powerful fax solution for today’s executive.”

Fax – The Silent Eco-Killer
Fax machines are one of the most energy intensive office tools. Even when idle, they consume energy – and energy production is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions. However, the damage done by faxing goes beyond the machine itself as U.S. companies use 210 billion sheets of paper each year for faxing alone. 17 million trees are lost annually to supply this paper, contributing to global warming and soil erosion, among several other environmental problems.

CallWave Virtual Fax – The Green Solution
CallWave Virtual Fax offers a simple and effective way to protect the environment – eliminating paper from the faxing process and making the energy-inefficient fax machine obsolete. Additionally, CallWave Virtual Fax removes the need for ink and toner cartridges, two forms of non-biodegradable waste that fill landfills and result in methane and other greenhouse gases.

CallWave Virtual Fax, is available now at prices up to 35% less than the competition. For a limited time, interested subscribers can enjoy a seven-day free trial – saving paper and energy with no obligation. For additional details please visit

Read more!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Great green gadgets - Terrapass

Over the last few weeks, TerraPass has started selling a handful of products that help to save money and energy around the home and office. Two of my particular favorites are the Smart Strip and the Kill A Watt.

Product 1: Smart Strip
The Smart Strip aims to solve a problem that has become a particular bugbear of mine: electronics sitting on standby and chargers plugged in, keeping warm on your electricity bill. The average home consumes 5-10% of its total energy bill in wasted standby electricity. The International Energy Agency says (pdf) that roughly 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions are caused by standby power alone.

You can attach all the computer peripherals like External monitor, Printer, Modem, Speakers and subwoofer, USB hub

Each one of these accessories has its own power supply, and every one of them has a standby mode. And none of them is necessary unless I’m using the computer.

This is where the Smart Strip helps. The basic idea is that when my laptop is off, everything else is turned off. Completely off. Plug your main appliance into the Smart Strip’s blue control socket. When your main appliance is on, everything else is on. When it’s off, everything else is off. If you have something (a desk lamp?) that needs to stay on independent of the others, you can plug it into a red socket to receive constant power.

The Smart Strip is also a surge protector, and the model we’re currently stocking includes fax and modem protection.

Last night (strictly in the name of science) I left all the peripherals mentioned above on standby instead of turning them completely off. Over 14 hours I wasted 0.82 kWh of electricity. Average this out over the year (with a heady 1.4 kWh per weekend day) and you end up with 361 kWh for the year. At California energy prices that will set you back $54 — and 300lbs CO2. Which means you can buy a Smart Strip and still have $20 left over. Aren’t we nice to you?

Product 2: Kill A Watt
You may be wondering how I measured my energy savings from the Smart Strip. Enter the Kill A Watt. The Kill A Watt is a great gadget for any eco-geek. It doesn’t save you any electricity directly, but it shows you where you can save.

Our office Kill A Watt is in high demand as people try to figure out, for example, whether the coffee machine is more economically left on, keeping warm, or whether it is better to heat it up from cold every time it’s needed (turns out keeping it on during peak coffee demand is most efficient).

The Kill A Watt embodies a theme we talk about a lot at TerraPass: understand your carbon footprint and then take steps to reduce it. The device is a real-life carbon calculator. Use it around the home and office; challenge yourself and your colleagues to reduce your energy costs; figure out which appliance is sucking the most power (it’s the second fridge, I’ll bet).

As well as standard metering functions, the Kill A Watt calculates cumulative energy use, which you can use to quickly work out how much any individual appliance is costing you.
Read more!

Cutting energy use in data centres - Case Study

A QUICK flick through the annual reports of the largest corporations here and overseas shows that many captains of industry have been bitten by the climate change bug and most will finger technology for a share of the blame.

For those companies' suppliers the pressure is mounting to ensure that products meet the green-friendly prerogatives of Fortune 1000 and ASX200 members, or contracts may be on the line.

At Macquarie Telecom the pressure is acute, with the Department of Environment and Water Resources and the National Water Commission among its customers.

"Multinationals, large corporations and government agencies are very mindful of it and spend time with you to understand your green credentials," Macquarie Telecom hosting managing director Aidan Tudehope says.

"We are more at the stage today where it's a contributing factor to the decision, so I don't think it's a veto criterion, but it absolutely will become one."

Fortunately for Macquarie, the sustainability push coincides with the company's own efforts to pare back its impact on the environment, which Tudehope says started purely as a green concern but is emerging as a cost-saver for the business.

Macquarie, like most big corporate and government IT users only kicked off its eco-friendly campaign in the past year, but Tudehope says it has been able to score some early wins, including a 6 per cent reduction in power consumption at its hosting centre in just two months.

"Last financial year was the start of the program and this financial year it hits very strongly in our operating plan," Tudehope says.

Macquarie is exploring a range of information technologies, such as virtualisation and new server hardware to drive down energy consumption, but there are a few basic first steps organisations can take, Tudehope says.

Those steps include metering individual server racks to measure electricity use, and finessing the design of the Macquarie Intellicentre hosting facility's cooling systems, which both contributed to the 6 per cent energy saving.

"The IT space is a heavy consumer of energy and therefore has a significant carbon footprint," Tudehope says.

"If you can't measure and monitor something, the chances are you're not going to change whatever it is you want to change."

The metering has confirmed generally held views that the biggest consumers of energy are data centre cooling, and the computer power unites and storage systems inside servers.

Cooling and server operations are tightly linked and companies such as Macquarie typically consume 1kW of power in cooling for every kilowatt used to run computer equipment.

According to Tudehope, Macquarie has taken a number of steps to make its cooling systems more efficient, including plugging gaps between floor tiles so chilled air running beneath the facility is only pumped directly into server racks.

The company has also set aside commonly held assumptions about the best temperature at which to operate gear.

"There's often a view that you need to have a computer room running at 16 degrees Celsius," Tudehope says.

"IT equipment doesn't need to run at 16 degrees, it is very happy running certainly into the low 20s and for some items even into the mid-20s. For every degree you increase the temperature, there's an immediate impact on your carbon footprint."

Macquarie has also begun to turn the screws on its suppliers as it moves to consolidate early gains and increase energy savings resulting from green IT strategy.

The telco expects to decide a major server contract in the next few weeks that will account for a big lump of the Intellicentre's $6 million a year capital budget, and Tudehope says environmental concerns are important in the tender process.

The company is also deploying VMware virtualisation technology that will deliver benefits, including reduced power consumption.

"There's a lot of vendor hype in the marketplace and numerous vendors are very clearly articulating their green credentials. We've had to understand those credentials and how we can benefit from them because there is no standard matrix through which you can easily compare one server manufacturer against another."

Environmental concerns weighed heavily on Macquarie Telecom as shareholders and customers looked to the company to establish its green credentials.

In the first phase of the eco-friendly IT strategy Macquarie installed electricity metres on server racks, raised operating temperatures and tweaked cooling designs.

Over two months the company reduced its facility's power consumption by 6 per cent.

Read more!

UK green electronics drive must keep going

More UK businesses must invest in eco-friendly office equipment, it has been claimed.
Research by Siemens Financial Services highlighted a lack of green products available as well as the initial cost of implementing a green strategy.

In its report, entitled Our Green and Pleasant Land, the firm encouraged electronics manufacturers to expand their environmentally-friendly product ranges.
It was revealed that one in four UK firms polled now measure their carbon footprint, while two-fifths have set up carbon-reduction initiatives. UK Green PC

“This independently conducted research amongst British businesses provides a really encouraging picture, but also reveals some serious barriers to a significant increase in low-emission equipment investment,” confirmed Rod Tonna-Barthet, director of Siemens Financial Services.

Manchester-based Tranquil PC have claimed that the vast numbers of computers in use today makes them key to tackling emissions and energy use across the globe.
According to the eco-IT specialists, some businesses have already started to switch to “greener machines”, with various government organisations and firms changing ten or 20 computers every month.

Read more!

How to green your electronics

These days, the news is full of stories about the environment. What is the government doing to help? What lengths are factories engaging in to improve the air? Can one person really make that much of a difference? The answer to the last question is yes, particularly when it comes to certain key home purchases.

In the developed world, we have grown used to electronics in our daily lives. From the alarm clock and hairdryer, to light fixtures and appliances; from sunrise to sunset, our electronics enhance our lives. But many concerns have been raised about the effect all these products may have on our planet, in how they’re made and the way they work. The good news is: you don’t have to give up your creature comforts to do your part for the environment. You just have to know enough to make smart choices and change some small habits. Here are some things you can do to reduce your personal burden on the environment.

Getting rid of energy-draining items such as your old-fashioned television and that half-empty extra fridge in the basement will go a long way towards reducing energy use in your home. The technology behind today’s LCD televisions, such as the Sharp AQUOS range, means they use a lot less energy than a conventional TV. Over the years, that can equate to a ton of money saved in hydro bills and a lot less carbon being pumped into the atmosphere.

When you’re thinking about replacing major appliances and household electronics, give some extra thought to how these products are made - and what will become of them at the end of their life. With a little online research, or by talking to a knowledgeable in-store expert, you should be able to determine whether that latest gadget you’ve been craving is actually riddled with heavy metals and other toxic materials. Look for products manufactured in a sustainable way, using recycled and renewable materials, and with a long life cycle.

Another way to green your electronics is simply to turn them off when they’re not in use. This doesn’t only apply to obvious products like stereos and DVD players, but when your laptop computer’s power adapter is plugged in, it’s still drawing a charge - even if your computer is off. The same goes for your cell phone and all mobile device chargers. Most battery chargers just aren’t smart enough to know to stop doing their job just because the device isn’t attached. To save constantly plugging and unplugging your chargers, a simple power bar allows you to switch everything off at the same time.

Stringing up holiday lights is a lot of work so it’s natural to want to enjoy them as much as possible. However, turning the lights off when you go to bed and during the day will help to cut your hydro bill this winter. A cheap timer switch or, even better, a light-activated one, will save you money and reduce your carbon emissions.

Preserving our environment is a challenging task and everyone needs to do their part. Turning off lights, choosing eco-friendly products, and unplugging electronics seems simple enough, but simple steps can go a long way, and you’ll notice the savings in your pocket too.


Read more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What to do with Old Computer?

During your computer's life, you can make it greener by using it wisely and by extending its life; beyond that, your main impact is what you do with the computer at the end of its life. Using your computer wisely means treating it like any other appliance and turning it off or putting it to sleep when it's not in use. (This can include just parts of your computer--for instance, if running it as a music server, you can shut the monitor off.) Extending the life of your computer means upgrading it or adding peripherals to keep it useful years longer than it normally would be. This is easier for desktops than for laptops, simply because desktops are much more modular. Many brand-name machines are specifically designed to be easily upgradeable, and all systems cobbled together from third-party components (known as white boxes) are by their nature reconfigurable.

Even older systems where the CPU cannot be upgraded further and there's no room for more RAM can sometimes see great benefit from just replacing the video driver, given the more multimedia-rich environment we are now in. If the computer is absolutely not useful as a working computer anymore, it still may be good for a niche application (like the music / entertainment server mentioned above) where it could eliminate the need for a separate CD player, DVD player, etc.

Reselling and Donating
The best way to get rid of your computer is to sell it (or give it) to someone who still finds it useful. Doubtless there are a few older machines--especially ones with large CRT's--which are such energy hogs that two or three more years of electricity use would cause more impact than manufacturing a new replacement; but the only way to know that is to do a life cycle analysis. Most of the time it will make sense to keep old machines running. The two most popular sites to sell used electronics are eBay and Craigslist, simply because they are so popular for all person-to-person selling. SecondRotation is a company that will buy your old cell phone, GPS, digital camera, or laptop (Apple only, so far) for a fixed fee, then resell it. A quick check on the value of my MacBook Pro showed that I would get more selling it on eBay, but that may not be true for some of the other product categories, and they offer the security of a known buyer/seller.

If your computer is too old to talk anyone into buying it, you can donate it. Free Geek has, as they say, been "helping the needy get nerdy since the beginning of the 3rd Millennium". They and other similar groups like Youth for Technology Foundation and Network for Good take old computers, refurbish them if necessary, and give them to low-income schools (both in industrialized countries and developing countries.) TechSoup has a good list of tips for donating a computer.

Read more!

Monday, November 26, 2007

City calls computer recycling a success

The final computer reycling roundup was a resounding success last week, with over 126,000 pounds of computers, televisions and electronics collected from the 1,275 households bringing their obsolete equipment to the event.

The roundup, held every six months for the past 15 years, is ending to make way for a year-round recycling program, so people can drop off their old computers, TVs and other electronic goods at the city's two recycling dropoff sites, beginning Jan. 1, 2008.

City recycling coordinator George Dreckmann said more than a million pounds of electronics were collected from the public and recycled in the past seven years.

The roundup was sponsored by the city of Madison, Dane County, the Madison PC Users Group and Cascade Asset Management, a computer recycling firm.

Cascade will "retire" the equipment and recycle the usable parts.

Volunteers at the roundup, held at the city's transfer station on Olin Avenue last Saturday, were unloading over five cars a minute.

Computer monitors and laptop computers outnumbered recycled televisions by a 1,375 to 240 count at the roundup.

Dreckmann estimated 5,325 pounds of lead was kept out of landfills because of the latest reycling roundup.

"Because computer equipment contains hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium, it's important to keep these items out of landfills," Dreckmann said.

The year-round electronic recycling dropoff sites will be at 4602 Sycamore Ave. and 1501 W. Badger Rd.

Madison residents will not be able to put television, computer monitors, laptops or CPUs at curbside beginning Jan. 1, and will have to take the items to the dropoff sites for recycling.

The city will charge $10 for each CPU, monitor and laptop and $15 for each television brought in for recycling. Keyboards, scanners, printers, VCRs, DVD players, typewriters, stereo components, telephones, cell phones and miscellaneous computer parts will be accepted for recycling free of charge.

Read more!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Green 500 list ranks supercomputers

Big iron rated on energy efficiency rather than raw power

Researchers at Virginia Tech have released the first Green 500 list which ranks the world's supercomputers by performance-per-watt rather than pure processing power.

The list of the 500 most energy efficient supercomputers around the world is a derivative of the Top 500 list, a bi-annual report of the top performing supercomputer sites.

The project was spearheaded by Kirk Cameron and Wu Feng, associate professors at Virginia Tech's computer science department.

"The list is meant to encourage people to develop systems that use power efficiently," said Cameron.

"If you do that, you decrease costs, which are really high, between $800,000 and $1m a year per megawatt. It's ridiculously expensive. You're looking at $1m to $4m a year to run a mega system."

Virginia Tech said that the Green 500 will help usher in a new era where supercomputers can be compared by performance-per-watt, rather than just computational power.

This inaugural list uses the measured power consumed during a Linpack run, if submitted, or peak power consumption of the supercomputer otherwise.

"While the selection of any power-performance metric will be controversial, we opt for 'flops per watt' given that it has already become a widely used metric in the community," says the Green 500 website.

This method is under review by the researchers, and Feng hopes that the process will "evolve over time to ensure accuracy and more closely reflect energy efficiency in the fast-paced, ever-changing, high-performance community" .

The top of the list is completely dominated by IBM's Blue Gene supercomputers, with 26 of the top 27 deployments.

Caroline Roberts, deep computer sales manager in the UK at IBM, told that energy efficiency was a key design feature of the Blue Gene architecture.

"Since IBM sold the first Blue Gene supercomputer in 2004, it has come along in leaps and bounds," she said.

Roberts explained that using a large number of relatively low powered CPUs (850MHz compared to 2GHz used in most other supercomputers) meant that the Blue Gene machines are "sipping electricity but still producing massive computational power".

Roberts concluded that "floppage-per-watt" will become an increasingly important metric for supercomputer deployments as the pressure of green issues and costs of powering these systems continues to increase.


Read more!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Acer To Supply Green PCs To TAFE

Acer Computer Australia has signed a three-year contract to supply desktop PCs to Holmesglen TAFE in Victoria.

The deal is worth over $3 million and follows the company announcing the highest market share in the education sector in Australia for five years running, according to figures from the company.

Acer will now provide the Institute with its ultra small form factor (USFF) range of PCs, including the energy efficient Veriton 1000.

According to Acer, Holmesglen was interested in the ‘green' benefits of the product range which include additional energy saving costs.

"Holmesglen Institute, Victoria is another prestigious win to add to Acer's already impressive list of education customers in Australia," said Acer national education sales manager, Frank Ugolini.

"Acer was able to add significant value to Holmesglen Institute through creative initiatives to reduce both Holmesglen and Acer's operating costs.

"This included enabling Holmesglen TAFE to provide warranty services to their own user base and sharing Acer's e-Learning facilities with Holmesglen Institute's IT staff. On top of this, Acer has used its channel business model and partnered with Perfektcom who have also been able to add significant value to Holmesglen."

Read more!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reselling and Donating Old Computer

The best way to get rid of your computer is to sell it (or give it) to someone who still finds it useful. Doubtless there are a few older machines--especially ones with large CRT's--which are such energy hogs that two or three more years of electricity use would cause more impact than manufacturing a new replacement; but the only way to know that is to do a life cycle analysis. Most of the time it will make sense to keep old machines running. The two most popular sites to sell used electronics are eBay and Craigslist, simply because they are so popular for all person-to-person selling. SecondRotation is a company that will buy your old cell phone, GPS, digital camera, or laptop (Apple only, so far) for a fixed fee, then resell it. A quick check on the value of my MacBook Pro showed that I would get more selling it on eBay, but that may not be true for some of the other product categories, and they offer the security of a known buyer/seller.

If your computer is too old to talk anyone into buying it, you can donate it. Free Geek has, as they say, been "helping the needy get nerdy since the beginning of the 3rd Millennium". They and other similar groups like Youth for Technology Foundation and Network for Good take old computers, refurbish them if necessary, and give them to low-income schools (both in industrialized countries and developing countries.) TechSoup has a good list of tips for donating a computer.

Read more!

Green Interview with VIA

TFOT recently interviewed Gaynor de Wit, deputy director of processor platform marketing at VIA Technologies, to learn more about the company’s green-technology initiative and future plans.

Q: Can you describe when and why VIA decided to “go green”?
A: Early on, VIA recognized that massive adoption of computing technology on a global scale had the potential to result not only in the creation of vast amounts of waste material when components became obsolete, but also in significant stresses on existing power-supply infrastructures. With this in mind, in 2001 we opted to take an approach to product design that factored in the impact its products and processes might have on the environment.

Since the introduction of the VIA C3 processor in 2001, we have led the industry in the design of energy-efficient x86 platforms. From thin clients to laptops to industrial computing systems, VIA processor platforms have built a reputation for leading performance per watt and cool operation.

With the challenges presented by the forward-thinking European Union directives on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), VIA implemented internal procedures that ensured a smooth transition for the development of RoHS-compliant products.

While the RoHS directive came into effect in July 2006, VIA’s move toward lead-free manufacturing started much earlier, with the introduction of the Enhanced Ball Grid Array (EBGA) package for its processors and the Heat Sink Ball Grid Array (HSBGA) package for its chipsets. In fact, VIA has been shipping lead-free VIA Eden and C3 processor platforms into the market since the end of 2003, with the current VIA C7 processor family lead-free at launch in 2005.

With the launch of the VIA C7-D processor in late 2006, we’re seeking to define a new era in eco-friendly computing, and to further heighten awareness of computing’s impact on the environment. Conceived as the ideal desktop processor for corporations seeking to significantly save on their power bills, while delivering the performance and reliability needed for productivity applications, the VIA C7-D processor is the world's first computer component to be sold as carbon-free.

Q: Does green computing reduce costs for VIA in the short term as well as the long?
A: One of the great things about green computing is that it’s not just a more sustainable, environmentally friendly approach to computing; it also means very real savings in dollar terms. With office equipment currently accounting for up to 20 percent of total energy output and the fastest-growing area of energy use, a large company like VIA can cut costs enormously by utilizing energy-efficient, green-computing technologies.

And the savings don’t stop at lower power consumption through more efficient components. Cooler-running systems don’t heat up office spaces to the same extent, enabling significant air-conditioning cost reductions. Additionally, cooler components extend the useful life of hardware, further reducing costs. The business case for saving energy is very clear.

But green computing extends out of the data center and the desktop, encompassingsuchmobility issues as encouraging work from home and video conferencing that discourages travel. VIA is a global organization of nearly 3000 people, with engineering teams needing to collaborate regularly, so there are significant financial savings as well as lower carbon emissions that can had through reduced travel. As technology improves, that’s been easier to achieve, and to this end we have an in-house videoconferencing suite that has gone a long way toward cutting back on costs.

Q: What obstacles do you face, in research or development, with your environment-friendly products?
A: Our leadership in energy efficiency, miniaturization, and integration at the silicon and board level is a testament to VIA’s R&D capabilities.

On the design side, ensuring energy efficiency in IC chips requires a keen focus on reducing voltage, while retaining performance and enabling our signature rich-feature integration within ever-smaller packages. This is not a simple process and demands high levels of skilled engineering, which is why, to this day, we can offer the lowest power-consuming embedded, notebook, and desktop processors in the world.

Achieving such high levels of energy efficiency and low heat production also allows us to build smaller, which in turn allows our partners to build smaller systems, providing savings for consumers not only in terms of power requirements but also in disposal costs. For portable systems, such as the new generation of ultra-mobile devices, this also means longer battery life, an essential element of ultra-mobility Other companies cannot achieve this, as their chips consume too much power and emit too much heat.

On the manufacturing side, the removal of hazardous substances raises several technical challenges, especially the replacement of lead as a stable solder substance. However, an aggressive approach to the problem, starting five to six years ago, allowed our engineers the time to experiment with effective replacement alloys, so that our processor platforms were effectively manufactured lead-free long before the industry was mandated to do so.

Q: How would you respond to critics who claim that lead-free products are dangerous and unreliable?
A: This has become a hot topic in the wake of the recent RoHS directive. The issue is that lead-free solders have higher melting points than traditional tin-and-lead solder. Lead has been used in solders for hundreds of years because tin-and-lead solders have a low melting point, are easy to use, and give reliable solder joints. The argument is that most useful alternative alloys have higher melting temperatures, which can cause damage to laminate and to heat-sensitive components and raise concerns about stresses put on components. This unreliability can become dangerous in systems people rely on, such as medical devices, and can cost lives. Such reliability concerns have kept manufacturers from transitioning to lead-free soldering, and exemptions for certain industries (for example, aerospace, military, and computer-server products) have been taken as a tacit admission that lead-free is unreliable.

The fact is, lead-free components and manufacturing processes can be completely safe and reliable. VIA, and other companies who have been lead-free for a while, are in a good position, because we have already worked through the transition problems. Everyone else is just going through it now, which is why we’re hearing so much about it.

Not all lead-free soldering is the same. Some alloys are better than others, and some temperatures work better than others. For many companies, there will be an element of trial and error in discovering what works best for them. Certainly, we’ve seen real advances in the last few years with some electronics manufacturers offering lead-free soldering that rivals their leaded counterparts in reliability. We feel comfortable that criticism will die away as companies progress through the transition, and this is being borne out already by the European Union’s removal of several of the exemptions to the RoHS directive.

Q: How do you see VIA's green-initiative progress in the future?
A: VIA will continue to innovate in the x86 platform space and push forward with more power-efficient, smaller-form-factor components. Since it’s not just businesses that should be aware of the impact of their computing activity; this includes taking our green-computing message into new settings and product areas. So, for example, we’ll be attending the Green California School Summit in Pasadena, California, in December to showcase low-power client-servers and ultra-mobile devices for the education market, and there will be other events that help get the message across.

We’ll also continue to work closely with organizations and companies involved with renewable energies in an effort to develop more sustainable computing platforms.

At VIA, we believe that the computing device you’ll be using in the future will be very different from the one you’re using today. Devices are using less and less power at the same time as renewable energy is getting more and more portable and effective. The materials computers are made from are becoming less hazardous. At the end of the road will be a computer that not only connects us to the world through information technology using renewable energy, but is also constructed through a cycle of manufacturing that doesn't hurt us or future generations. How long that road is isn’t clear at the moment, but VIA intends to continue to lead the way forward through its green-computing initiative.


Read more!

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.

Read more!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

PC Recycling comes to Blaine County

To implement the PC recycling program, SISW (Southern Idaho Solid Waste) contracts with PC Recyclers of Idaho to service 10 drop-off locations in SISW’s seven county jurisdiction. The 10 drop-off sites are the product of two years of work by SISW.

So why should anyone bother to recycle their computer? The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality states it’s a matter of self interest. In Idaho, 90% of drinking water comes from groundwater sources. When computers and electronics are disposed of in landfills, the lead and other toxic metals they contain can leach into our groundwater over time. This poses such a health problem that some states, such as California, ban computers from landfills and collect a $6-10 tax on computer equipment to help fund a statewide electronics recycling program.

Motivations extend beyond good community health however, especially for businesses that opt to landfill their old computers. Businesses that landfill PC equipment must determine if they contain hazardous materials and if so, must document and report their disposal to government agencies. Those businesses that generate hazardous waste are governed by extra federal and state regulations – an expensive and time consuming choice when compared to free local recycling.

If you have a computer that you want to dispose of, first determine if an easy upgrade can extend its useful life. If not, and the computer still works, try calling the local school district or an area non-profit. They can often use a donation and your obsolete computer can turn into a tax deductible donation. If the computer is broken beyond repair or a donor cannot be found, bring the computer down to Ohio Gulch for recycling. If you have 10 or more computers, contact SISW at 208-432-9082 for a special pickup. Clear Creek also offers a special pickup for $35 per piece of equipment if you are too busy to avail yourself of the free drop-off site. For any questions about PC recycling, or recycling at large, call the Environmental Resource Center at 208-726-4333 or visit

Read more!

The greening of the computer

While the specially designed XO laptop, intended for children without access to electricity, is the most environmentally friendly, other computer makers are going green in response to consumer demand

Hot off the production line, the low-power laptops designed for children in developing countries are the most environmentally friendly computer available today.

The XO laptops were created by the One Laptop Per Child initiative, which aims to make low-cost computers available to children who often don't have access to electricity. Earlier this month, the first mass produced XOs started rolling off the assembly line of a Chinese factory.

"Our customers, our kids, don't have electricity," says Mary Lou Jepsen, the OLPC initiative's chief technology officer. "We designed a laptop that can be powered by a hand crank, but to do that we had to reduce the power consumption."

In fact, the XO can be powered by a hand crank, a foot pedal, a solar panel or a string-pull device, something like the handle you pull to start a lawn mower. Five minutes of hand cranking will let a child read a book from the XO's screen for about an hour, Dr. Jepsen says. Some tasks use power faster.

The XO is especially energy-efficient for uses that don't require much processing power because its central processing unit (CPU) shuts down when not needed and wakes up again in a hundredth of a second. The screen stays on, Dr. Jepsen explains, so the computer user doesn't notice a change, but with the CPU off, the laptop uses only about a watt of power - compared with about 20 watts for a conventional laptop.

The XO's screen - which Dr. Jepsen herself designed - is another energy-saver. Like most laptop screens it uses liquid-crystal technology, but it is backlit with light-emitting diodes rather than tiny fluorescent tubes. This is both more energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly because fluorescent tubes contain mercury, Dr. Jepsen says.

With the backlight on, she says, the XO's screen uses about a watt of power, and without backlight it uses only a tenth of a watt.

Altogether, she says, an XO will use seven or eight watts of power at most, and for less demanding tasks only three or four. Most laptops use 20 watts even when idle.

Using less energy is probably its most important contribution to the environment, but the machine also uses fewer hazardous materials than most computers. The OLPC initiative chose a battery design sometimes used in electric cars, called lithium ferro phosphate. These batteries can be recharged more often than the lithium ion technology used in most laptops, Dr. Jepsen says, and used batteries decompose into "something like fertilizer."

If you want to own the world's most environmentally friendly computer, you can. The OLPC group has just launched its "Give 1 Get 1" program, under which North American consumers can buy the machines for $399 U.S. - double the production cost, to subsidize a machine for one child in the developing world.

If you would prefer to buy a traditional computer, though, there are still ways to pay attention to its environmental impact.

A good place to start is EPEAT, a program initiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess electronic products against environmental criteria.

To get on the EPEAT list, products must meet a basic list of criteria that gives them "bronze" status, while additional optional features can elevate a product to the "silver" or "gold" category. The list of computers and computer-related products is available online at

The Green Electronics Council, which runs EPEAT, says EPEAT-registered products bought in 2006 will, over their lifetimes, save enough energy to power 1.2 million U.S. homes for a year and avoid the disposal of more than 40,000 metric tons of hazardous waste.

Environment Canada has a similar program called EcoLogo that covers more categories of products. Unlike EPEAT, EcoLogo requires third-party testing to certify products. No computers have earned that certification yet, Mr. Case says, but some peripheral devices have. Details on EcoLogo are available at

As the proliferation of EPEAT-registered products shows, most of the PC industry is jumping on the green bandwagon.

For instance, the ThinkCenter A61E desktop PC that Lenovo Group Ltd. launched in September uses half as much power as previous models and 90 per cent of its components can be recycled, says Jordan Buck, national sales specialist at Lenovo Canada.

Toshiba Corp. is working with chip makers and introducing energy-efficient screen technologies such as organic light-emitting diodes to lower its laptops' power consumption. At five laptops with EPEAT's gold status, the company has more than any other vendor.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and rival Intel Corp. are looking for ways to make idle chips use less power. Doug Cooper, country manager at Intel of Canada Ltd. in Toronto, says a processor at rest uses less than five watts today, but Intel wants get that down to one watt. AMD is pursuing similar goals with its PowerNow technology.

This greening trend is mostly market driven. Todd Smith, director of marketing at Toshiba Canada, says his company is emphasizing EPEAT registration because it has become a factor in government purchasing. And consumer demand is a factor, too.

Electronic waste

25% Proportion of Canadian households that disposed of old computers by taking them to special waste depots or returned them to the supplier in 2006.

20% Portion that put the machines in the garbage.

33% Proportion that didn't know what to do with the machines.


Read more!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Western Digital's Green Hard Drive

Western Digital announced its latest enterprise hard drive today which reduces energy usage and lowers costs for data centers. The new GreenPower family of HDDs range from 500GB to 1TB storage capacity.

The drives are reliability rated at 1.2 million hours mean time between failure in high duty cycle environments. WD says these drives can reduce power usage by 40%. "Delivering up to 40 percent savings in hard drive power consumption, Western Digital's new RE2-GP hard drives are an excellent choice for customers deploying Rackable Systems' newest generation of Eco-Logical storage systems -- enabling even greater efficiency and performance," said Tony Gaughan, chief products officer of Rackable Systems.

WD says the GreenPower drives can save data centers more than $10 per drive each year in energy costs. Large data centers running 10,000 drives could see money savings of $100,000 per year thanks to the low 4-5 watts of power required for drive operation. The drives are priced from $149.99 to $349.99.

Read more!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Eco-computing can spell energy profits

Beleaguered IT managers already have to deal with fast-changing technologies, rising user expectations and gnarly recruiting situations.

Now, they face a new challenge. They're being asked, "How Green is Your Silicon Valley?" Under slogans like "Eco-computing" and "Green IT," environmental awareness has caught the attention of computer giants such as Intel, IBM and Sun Microsystems. And they don't need Al Gore to preach for them. It's a matter of dollars and cents.

"The average data centre consumes 10 to 30 times the amount of power as the average office space, when compared on a square-foot basis," says Chris Pratt, strategic initiatives executive with IBM Canada.

In fact, he says the costs of running computers will soon overtake the cost of buying them. This is supported by a January 2007 study from research firm IDC that found today, for every dollar spent on new hardware, an additional 50 cents is spent on power and cooling, more than double the amount of five years ago. The power and cooling cost is expected to rise to reach $1 per $1 of hardware costs by 2012.

Pratt points to IBM's own efforts in this area, from "computers that will dynamically turn parts of themselves off" to "server virtualization," which involves using fewer computers more intensively. He jokes that floor space that was converted from data centres to offices is now being turned into central server rooms. He also thinks that tape is coming back as a "greener" data-storage medium than disk.

Pratt says IBMers can have either a laptop or a desktop computer, but not both. They must walk to a central printer pool to pick up their printouts and their files are stored centrally, not on energy-guzzling PC hard disks. Pratt says some people are even turning off their computers at night, or, if they must be left running, donating the processing cycles to public service projects such as World Community Grid.

The IBM folks are almost evangelistic about their green initiative. Pratt says that IBM is looking to save five billion kilowatt hours, "which equals the power consumption of the city of Paris, France.?

He points to their Bromont, Que., plant, which has consistently exceeded their energy saving targets.

Their latest innovation, which IBM says is a first in North America, is "stored cooling.?

Pratt says this is a process that allows them to maximize the efficiency of their chillers and cooling, "and take full advantage of the free cooling that comes from Canada's climate."

Think giant cylinders of a goop that stores thermal energy like batteries store electricity, and releases it on demand under computer control. The system is made by Quebec-based Groupe √Čnerstat Inc.

IBM notes that the energy savings associated with this project are in the vicinity of six per cent a year and will reduce electrical power demand by more than one megawatt, saving the company $350,000 per year at that plant alone.

Pushing Green IT is good business for IBM. Pratt has just completed presentations in Toronto and Calgary as part of CIO Canada magazine's "Frankly Speaking" breakfast series. He encourages IT managers to do a data centre energy audit, just like you would do at home, and points to a free tool on the IBM website ( systems/energyassess) to get them started.

Pratt also notes that "you don't have to have a thousand machines to benefit from this. Someone who is a small or medium-sized business, with 20 or 30 systems, can consolidate down to four or five systems ... and there's nothing but benefits from that."

IT power consumption can become an urgent business issue. IBM and other companies say they have customers, mainly in California, who cannot take delivery of much-needed computers because they simply cannot get power for them at any price.

Almost all computer makers are joining the push to Green IT. Dell has announced free recycling for any Dell-branded product, and pledged to "eliminate in our new products all remaining uses of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) by 2009."

Lenovo, which was spun off from IBM and now does US$13 billion in annual revenues from PC sales, is touting its new ThinkCentre A61e desktop as saving on average more than $20 a year in energy costs and the equivalent of the carbon dioxide emissions created by two round-trip flights from Boston to New York.

At the bleeding edge of technology, Jai Menon, an IBM Fellow based in Almaden, Calif., recently showed off a possible future IBM product nicknamed the IceCube. IBM marketers apparently didn't want to share a name with a notorious rapper, so it's properly called "Intelligent Bricks."

Imagine a stack of generic, but very high-powered computing cubes that aren't even connected to each other by wires.

Data is transferred by capacitive coupling. Menon says this makes it easy to slip out components that fail, creating an energy-efficient, highly reliable system out of less-reliable components.

The thing looks like a bunch of giant Lego until you realize that the working prototype cube can hold 27 terabytes (27 million megabytes) of information and provide more processing power than most of us will ever need.

Ah, but there are people who will always want more. Folks like Chuck Boeheim, the assistant director of computer services at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California. They work on really big problems and needed to pop in another 200 computers.

Problem was, according to Boeheim, they simply had no space and couldn't build it in time. So they became the first customer to get a "Project Blackbox" unit from Sun Microsystems. It fits on a flatbed truck and basically gives you a data centre in a box. A very big box.

Elizabeth From, director of strategy for California-based Sun, brought the Blackbox to Calgary recently and ushered a stream of energy industry executives through it. She says it takes server virtualization one step further.

"We decided to get 'out of the box' and asked, what if the unit to be virtualized was the data centre, instead of the server? So we decouple the brick-and-mortar aspect of the data centre from what it does."

At about US$500,000, it's not for everyone. But it does, in her words, work well for companies that need reliable plug-and-play computing capacity, even in remote or disaster areas.

Like most computer vendors hopping onto the Green IT train, From sees the push to more environmental awareness as a golden business opportunity for her company.

"Eco means economic and energy and ecology," she says. "So for us, it's green money and green environment."

Read more!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Recycling computer chip scrap for solar panels

You can make solar panels out of it and help reduce our demand on fossil fuels. Or you can make computer chips out of it. And computers are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the environment. On the one hand, they can help pave the way toward a paperless society. On the other hand, it takes a hefty amount of energy to run the average computer.

So is it more responsible to use silicon for computer chips or solar panels? It turns out you might be able to have the best of both worlds. IBM has announced a new method for using scrap material from microchip creation to make solar panels.

As things stand, a tiny bit of silicon is discarded for every computer chip that's manufactured. While that might not seem like much, there's a huge demand for computer chips, and IBM estimates that 3 million silicon wafers are thrown out every year. If you built solar panels out of that material, you could power 6,000 houses. But right now, that material is demolished and landfilled.

That's because each chip includes proprietary data that companies don't want released to the public. They're perfectly recyclable today, but chip makers don't want competing companies to see the information on each chip, so they're destroyed. IBM's innovation is a technique for polishing wafers and removing any proprietary information, making the wafers suitable for building solar panels.

If the technique catches on, it could lead chip makers to partner with solar panel manufacturers. Chip makers could make a few bucks by selling the scrap material, while solar panel makers would benefit from lower-priced recycled silicon.


Read more!

Computer repair company finds unique way to go green

Since computers have become mainstream, most of us have become familiar with hard drives crashing or internet signals dying. News 3's Robert Santos shows us one company that provides relief for computers and the environment.

When there's a computer emergency at Phil Sameroff's home he calls Chad Stone to the rescue. "I've had no problems with viruses or anything but now I can't get on the internet," Phil explains.

A computer tech by trade, Chad started his own business two years ago and called it PC 911. It's a company that not only revives computers, but is helping to save the environment as well.

So what is it about PC 911 that's eco friendly? Well, for one, Chad uses old ambulances to drive around town and run his business. Secondly, every single one of these ambulances is run on 100 percent used vegetable oil.

"It was really difficult to work out of a pick up truck," Chad explains. "I was trolling through eBay looking for some kind of work truck affordable for our business. And I saw an old, old used ambulance."

It was perfect for the computer store on wheels he wanted. An ambulance comes with everything he needs including cabinets and compartments for every tool and supply and even a stretcher.

"We'll carry 10 or 12 boxes of wiring. With a hand truck, that's three or four trips. With a stretcher, it's literally one person can handle it," Chad said.

In addition to reusing old ambulances, Chad feeds what's normally a diesel engine with recycled vegetable oil donated by restaurants. First, Chad must strain all the food and fatty particles out, so he strains the veggie oil by using a $1,600 sifting machine. Once the black oil turns a golden brown, it's ready to be pumped into his fleet of ambulances.

On a typical day, PC 911 responds to up to a dozen residential calls and up to 10 business calls. And one way clients know the crew has arrived it the occasional smell of french fries, hot dogs and other food in the air.

Chad paid anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 for each one ambulance.

Read more!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Turning IT waste into green power

IBM recycles wafers for use as solar panels. Computer giant IBM has developed a process of reclaiming imprinted computer circuitry from obsolete machines to allow them to be used by the solar panel industry. The silicon material, of which they are made, is in short supply by this fledgling, though potentially huge, industry.

Charles Bai, chief financial officer at ReneSola, one of China's fastest growing solar energy companies, commented: "One of the challenges facing the solar industry is a severe shortage of silicon which threatens to stall its rapid growth. This is why we have turned to reclaimed silicon materials sourced primarily from the semiconductor industry to supply the raw material our company needs to manufacture solar panels."

Silicon wafers
Silicon wafers are the base materials for the manufacture of microelectronic products, from computers to mobile phones. Currently, around 250,000 silicon wafers are started every day across the globe.

The new technique, which has been pioneered at IBM’s plant in Burlington, Vermont, uses ‘pattern’ - a removal technique to remove all IP from the unit before it’s made available for use.


Read more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

America Recycle Day on November 15th

Recycling is the focus this week throughout the country as
residents, schools, businesses, municipalities and other organizations celebrate America Recycles Day, officially recognized on November 15th. With Americans consuming over 426,000 cell phones and 1,370,000 ink cartridges EVERYDAY, Project KOPEG “Keep Our Planet Earth Green”, offers non-profits, churches, schools, youth groups, businesses or virtually any organization wanting to raise extra funds, a program that incorporates a win/win solution of recycling and protecting the environment. One cell phone alone, improperly disposed of in a landfill can potentially contaminate 158,000 gallons of ground water, which is the equivalent to 2.4 million cups of coffee or tea!

Project KOPEG accepts used cell phones, batteries & chargers, inkjet/toner cartridges, Mp3 players, iPods, Digital Cameras, Pocket PC’s, Handhelds, Palm Pilots and PDA’s. “With the growing concern over the environmental impact of electronic waste, we believe we are doing the right thing in offering individuals and businesses the opportunity to recycle these items and support their community at the same time” states Mary Bradley, a fundraiser consultant with Project KOPEG. “We have a commitment to education and the environment. Every piece of our literature carries the message of the harmful effects of improper disposal of e-waste.”

KOPEG’s owner, Mike Green, isn’t fussy about the items they accept. “We will compensate fundraisers for all models, no matter what condition. Our focus is to keep these items out of our nation’s landfills and help protect water for future generations. We make it simple and easy and pay for all shipping of items to our office.”


Read more!

Intel Unveils New Chips Built Using Green Transistor Formula

Improving the energy-efficiency of computer processors is the key to improving computer performance, Intel indicated in its Sunday announcement about a new family of chips. The chipmaker developed a new transistor formula to cut down on energy leaks, which it sees as a threat to future computer innovation.

This new method was unveiled in 16 high-end PC and server processors from Intel. An added benefit of the formula is that it eliminates the need to use lead (an environmental hazard). Also, by 2008 Intel expects the process will also do away with halogen materials.

So, not only is the formula breaking new ground in terms of computer processing power, but it’s “green” as well.

For its new transistor formula, Intel combined two advances: the company’s Hafnium-based high-k metal gate formula (enables hundreds of millions of transistors to be built into each processor) and its 45-nanometer manufacturing process (boosts performance, lowers power consumption).

Intel expects that the breakthroughs it made with this new formula open the door for designing and building chips 25 percent smaller than previously possible. During 2008, the company will be focusing on just that, developing “system on chip” products for ultra mobile and consumer electronics devices.

The flagship product in Sunday’s unveiling was the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 core processor, designed for use by gamers and media enthusiasts. This chip is already wowing game-maker Crytek, developer of first-person shooter game Crysis.

“One of our goals was to optimize Crysis in order to deliver the ultimate quality, bringing mind-blowing game play to the latest hardware,” said Douglas Binks, R&D manager at Crytek, in a statement. “With the new 45nm Hi-k Intel Core 2 Extreme processors, we use multi-core technology to enable physics, particle effects and audio on separate cores, helping Crysis to create an astounding gaming experience.”

Intel’s Sunday launch also 15 dual-core and quad-core server chips. Twelve of these processors feature clock speeds ranging from 2GHz to 3.20GHz, front sidebus speeds as high as 1600MHz and 12MB caches. The remaining three chips clock up to 3.40GHz with FSB up to 1600MHz and 6M caches.

The company designed these new Xeon processors to be compatible with server platforms built on the Intel 5000 chipset family. Three new platform solutions, supporting the 45nm processors, were also launched:

- Intel 5400 chipset-based platform, aka “Stoakley,” optimized for high-bandwidth applications.
- Intel 5100 Memory Controller Hub chipset, aka “Cranberry Lake,” cost-optimized for one or two processors.
- Intel 3200 chipset-based platform, aka “Garlow,” designed for single-processor entry servers.

“The intellects, physics and designs that went into solving one of the industry's most daunting challenges are awe-inspiring and I congratulate the Intel teams for this breakthrough achievement,” Intel’s president and CEO, Paul Otellini, said in a statement.

Otellini continued: “Best yet, this feat, coupled with our industry-leading architectures, means faster and sleeker computers, longer battery life and better energy efficiency. Our objective is to bring consumers a new class of computers delivering a full Internet experience in ever-smaller, more portable form factors.”


Read more!

The $300 Green Linux PC from WalMart

If all you need is the basics, check out the eco-friendly $300 dollar Everex’s TC2502 gPC Ubuntu Linux PC- it’s compact, cheap, and a great greener option. And where can you get it? WalMart!

Despite years of WalMart’s dubious labor practices and the like, we recognize that giant company has made great strides recently in its environmental initiatives, and we actually like this green computer a lot.

For those of you who are technically challenged, the Everex TC2502 is a full featured PC, with an operating system that is completely free. Free to use, free to update, and extremely easy to use. Not only that, but it comes with a host of software which will satisfy all your needs.

This super energy-efficient PC features a 1.5 Ghz Via C7 CPU embedded within a Mini-ITX motherboard. It comes with half a gig of RAM an 80gb Hard drive and a DVD burner. It won’t run Vista, but the Ubuntu based operating system works beautifully (you can actually download it to try it yourself).

Why is it green though? The fact that it runs really, really efficiently, due to the use of the low powered minicomponents within the machine. We wish that they’d go farther, as unfortunately they designed the machine to look bigger than the size it actually needs to be, but still this is pretty sweet. Stuff like this helps put the idea out there and let people consider alternative choices, so we applaud Wal-Mart for taking this great step.


Read more!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Microsoft Launches Authorized Refurbisher Program - Green Reuse of Computers

Microsoft’s new “Authorized Refurbisher Program” (MAR), launched Friday, represents either the company’s determination to help boost reseller businesses while benefiting users and the environment, or the company’s determination to crack down on unauthorized use of its Windows operating system.

In its Friday announcement, Microsoft said MAR was created to help simplify volume licensing for refurbishers, enabling them to grow their businesses by selling used computers that are reformatted and then have the Windows OS re-installed.

In a Q and A on Microsoft’s Web site, Hani Shakeel, senior product manager at the company’s Genuine Windows Product Marketing division, said 2004 research conducted in partnership withGartner showed that 150 million PCs entered secondary market that year, of which about 20 million were refurbished and resold.

“Today we project that this number is closer to 28 million PCs, making refurbished PCs over 10 percent of the worldwide PC market,” Shakeel said in the Q and A.

Shakeel went on to say that Microsoft decided to create MAR after getting requests from refurbishers for genuine software solutions to meet needs of the secondary market—a way to buy licenses in bulk for use with large volumes of computers these companies collect and prepare for resale.

It isn’t always possible, Shakeel explained, for refurbishers to restore used PCs to their original state in terms of software installed, since they don’t always have access to each computer’s recovery disc. Refurbishers can order replacement media from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), but this a tedious process that doesn’t lend itself well to bulk refurbishing operations.

Now, with MAR, refurbishers can purchase new Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional licenses for PCs that have a certificate of authenticity. Licenses are available in English, French and Spanish.

By helping refurbishers prepare computers for resale without violating intellectual property rights, Microsoft said it is also helping to keep used computers out of landfills by encouraging reuse and recycling of technology.

“One of the big concerns in the secondary market is with the proper disposal or recycling of PCs, rather than having them end up in landfills,” Shakeel said in the Q and A on Microsoft’s Web site.

Shakeel continued: “The refurbishers with whom we are launching the MAR program have put in place strict environmental processes to address these concerns. This is a key differentiator for them compared to their competition. The MAR program enables partners to take this further, and differentiate themselves based on how they treat intellectual property and software licensing.”

Src: Click Here

Read more!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Green Environment Friendly Gifts for Christmas

Green products make wonderful gifts. Not only are they good for the environment, but they tend to save money (on electricity) and add functionality as well.

Portable chargers, for example, make excellent stocking stuffers. They let you charge your phone and other toys on the go without plugging in. You can harness the sun, the wind or both.

Windup chargers, or gadgets that have built-in charging through some kind of hand-crank, make great gifts, too.

Unlike previous years, there is now a huge selection of solar-powered backpacks and carry-all bags to choose from. These bags have solar panels on the outside and batteries on the inside. When you want to charge your stuff, just keep them plugged in as you carry them around.

Green PCs not only save you money on power, but also on the purchase itself. Wal-Mart, for example, is selling a new green PC for less than $200. Environmentally friendly PCs also tend to be quieter.

Look for products that are recycled or are recyclable, and don't use batteries or rechargeable batteries.

Giving green gifts lets your loved ones enjoy guilt-free fun. And, if you're good, maybe you'll get green gifts in your stocking this year. But that's only if you're good. If you're bad this year, expect carbon offsets instead of coal.

Read more!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Recycle Your Computer at Blind Center of Nevada

More than two million tons of electronic waste is dumped into landfills every year, and the Environmental Protection Agency says eventually that could cause major problems.

Eyewitness News found a local group that's working to keep your high-tech trash out of the Las Vegas Valley dumps. For the past two years, workers at the Blind Center of Nevada have being sorting, stacking, and shrink wrapping the valley's computer trash.

"The more we keep out of landfill the better," said Bob Waldorf, the president of operations for the Blind Center of Nevada.

Waldorf says 1,300 computers are kicked to the curb every day. This electronic waste is especially toxic, filled with mercury, flame retardants and worst of all lead.

Republic Recycling's Bob Coyle said, "The U.S. EPA was concerned about the amount of lead on the screen and monitors and felt they should be kept out of landfills."

The lead wires inside could contaminate the ground soil and water. Fortunately, Las Vegas landfills have safeguards to stop that kind of toxic catastrophe.

Bob Coyle continued, "Our landfill is lined in Las Vegas to stop contamination of the water."

Still, workers at the Blind Center are battling the new-age waste hauling in more than 2 million pounds of computer equipment every year, recycling, reconditioning, selling, and even donating it to local non-profits.

"The life of a PC in business maybe three to four years, but a life of a PC could be 10 to 12 years, so there is still a lot of useable life," Bob Waldorf explained.

The computer recycle program started as a way to help protect the environment but now the Blind Center of Nevada is taking it one step further by increasing personal security. They wipe the hard drive clean of all of your person information.

"It's just taking care of Mother Earth is what it's all about," Bob Coyle added.

Coyle says the computer recycling program helps, but high-tech trash is a growing mountain that they are trying to shrink into a mole hill. Republic Recycling officials say they expect to see an increase in TVs at landfills, as more people upgrade to high definition.

State lawmakers say they're considering charging extra recycling fees for those who buy new electronics to help off set recycling costs.

Read more!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sony Vaio Goes Green

Sony today took the wraps off four environmentally friendly Vaio notebooks.

The Graphic Splash Eco Edition notebooks, based on the Vaio FZ series, feature several eco-friendly features, including having easily recycled components, packaging made primarily of recycled materials, RoHS compliant components, free recycling and it is part of Sony’s rechargeable battery recycling program offered at Sony Style stores and participating retailers.

The laptops feature four “green” inspired case designs, Caribbean Water, Clay Earth, Spotted Life and Bloom. Suggested retails for the line start at $1,391 and Sony will donate 1 percent of each sale to For The Planet, an alliance of businesses committed to creating a healthier environment.

Another part of this launch has Sony offering a rebate on the purchase of any new Vaio notebook to consumers who trade in their old PC for recycling.

Read more!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Businesses can see cost benefits of green, says Fujitsu

Energy savings 'more than offset the higher cost of low-energy hardware', says CEO Businesses are beginning to understand the financial benefits of being green, according to the CEO of Europe’s largest PC manufacturer, Fujitsu Siemens.

At the company’s annual event in Munich, called VisIT 2007, Bernd Bischoff told Computerworld UK that firms now understood that the higher initial cost of much low-energy equipment was outweighed by the cost savings from cutting electricity usage.

He said that while being green was an attractive image for businesses to present, most arguments still came down to the bottom line and this was where green IT could be most attractive.

“A business might spend €300 (£200) more on an energy-efficient PC but recoup that in a year and a half on lower bills. And in a large business that could easily add up to hundreds of thousands of euros saved every two years" said Bischoff.

“And the savings from efficient datacentres can translate into millions of euros,” he added.

But Bischoff admitted that pressure from regulatory bodies, environmentally conscious shareholders and customers was also playing a part in convincing companies to demonstrate more respect for the environment.

“A lot of companies want to be a part of the green movement rather than outsiders,” he said.

“But some are just talking about it rather than doing it. Only when they do will they see the real savings.”

Fujitsu Siemens said 2007 would come to be known as the year where green IT finally took "centre stage” among businesses.

It said it was also committed to having a green business that used less wasteful production techniques and recycled 98% of materials. It said this included keeping the supply chain green by working with distributors to cut down excessive carbon emissions in transport.

“It’s for this reason that we produce in Germany, while most other people make PCs in Asia,” said Bischoff. “The environmental damage caused by excessive transportation, and the high cost of oil, far outweigh the benefits of cheaper production.”


Read more!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Marvell intorduces Energy Efficient Laptops

Marvell Introduces Breakthrough Technology to Cut PC Energy Use and Help Reduce Carbon Footprint.

Marvell has announced new digital power technology to lower PC and notebook power consumption. The company supplies OEMS making PC and notebook power supplies.

Marvell spokesperson Linda Sanders said: "Overall the power savings could vary from 35 to 50 percent depending on how the computer is being used."

The new chips are DSPs (digital signal processors), which dynamically adapt power characteristics in real time for power supplies and power adapters for PCs and notebook computers, by better controlling the AC-DC current switching needed.

The digitalisation of power supplies has been talked about for some time.

Digital signal processing involves digitising an input analogue signal, such as a sound stream, modifying its digital profile in real time to produce a desired characteristic, such as enhanced bass notes, and then feeding the modified sound stream to a device, such as a loudspeaker, and producing a better outcome.

With Marvell's power factor correction (PFC) technology, incoming electric current to a PC or notebook has its profile modified through a DSP chip. It determines the amount of power required for users’ applications that keeps the peak current at the lowest level, improving energy efficiency.

It does this with an adaptive drive capability which intelligently adjusts the electricity supply profile to reduce power supply switching losses and also reduces electro-magnetic interference.

Voltage and current are brought into phase; they arrive in separate waves, wasting less energy than present technology. Sanders said: "Being out of phase generates a lot of heat as you may know if you've ever picked up your notebook adapter after it's been running awhile."

Adaptive current limits are also automatically adjusted for varying current threshold limits worldwide, which adds system protection and reliability.

Marvell-based notebook adapters are approximately one-third smaller and lighter than current notebook adapters. This is because the new components can replace up to 20 individual parts used currently and so simplify power supply design as well as increasing power efficiency.

Sanders said: "Notebook and desktop PC vendors source power supplies from other vendors rather than building them directly. We are working with several power supply vendors who are based in Asia." In effect: "We're working with all the leading PC vendors as we supply a range of components including storage, networking and Wi-Fi chips."

Larry Qua, chairman and CEO at Ionics EMS, a supplier of IT power equipment to computer manufacturers, said: “With more functionality integrated onto a single chip, we can build our power supplies with fewer components thus saving cost and reducing design and manufacturing complexity. We are using Marvell’s chips to build energy-efficient notebook adapters as well as power supplies for applications such as flat-screen TVs and printers.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are more than 10 billion AC-DC power supplies used in computing, telecommunications, and consumer electronics world-wide. According to the EPA, more efficient power supply designs could significantly reduce US energy use, saving nearly $3 billion and about 24 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The US Energy Star rating system for PCs mandates that AC power efficiency has to reach 80 percent. By reducing the proportion of wasted energy at the power input stage the rest of a computer's components have less individual work to do to increase the computer's overall power efficiency.

Marvell's 88EM8041 controller chip for notebook adapters and 88EM8011 controller chip for desktop power supplies are in production now with volume ramp anticipated for Q1’08.


Read more!

Monday, November 5, 2007

How Green is your Mac?

There’s a lot of talk about going green these days, even from Mr. Jobs himself, so I thought I’d show you a few easy ways to cut down on the amount of energy your Mac uses. These steps can easily be followed by any Mac user; in fact, the same concepts can be applied to PCs running Microsoft Windows. These tips will not only save you electricity and paper, but also could help your computer last longer.

Screen Savings

First go to the “Energy Saver” section of System Preferences. In the second drop down box you can simply choose “Better Energy Savings” and the sliders below will shift to be more conservative about how your computer uses resources.

Your display will turn off after 5 minutes, so it shouldn’t interfere with your work, but will also start saving energy soon after you walk away. Also, the actual computer itself doesn’t doze off for another 5 minutes, so a quick flick of the mouse and the computer is instantly wide awake within a full 10 minutes of inactivity. Another point to note is that you should put your hard disk(s) to sleep when possible (check that little box on the bottom). Not only will this save energy, but it will also help your hard drive last longer. One caveat though, is that if you often come back to your computer soon after the HD shuts down, this could actually have an adverse affect when it it started and stopped frequently.

One disadvantage to this plan is illustrated by the bright yellow “!” caution symbol; you won’t have any time to display a fancy screen saver in the 5 minutes you leave your screen on. If you really like your screen saver, you could have it go for the 5 minutes before your whole computer goes to sleep, but the display is a big electricity hog, so have it turned off as soon as possible.

Unlimited Paper in a Paperless World

Have you ever printed a several-page document and thought about all the extra paper wasted? One good way to save paper is by choosing a smaller font, to minimize the number of pages needed. Also, you can choose to print in black and white, or lower the ink volume to conserve your pricey ink cartridges.

General Tips

* Turn off your Mac if you’re not using it for a few days
* Always recycle your electronics
* Don’t turn your Mac on and off every night, this wastes more energy than having it sleep for those hours
* Turn off Bluetooth and WiFi if you aren’t using them. This goes a long way in getting better battery life as well
* Email rather than Fax


Read more!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dell Tells Business How To Become Greener

As energy prices rise and the use of technology guzzles power supply, Dell today urged small and medium businesses (SMBs) to be more environmentally responsible and energy efficient while saving money in the process. Rather than being a cost to the business which is a worry of many SMBs, there are, according to the PC maker, green business practices that can help businesses save money.

Erin Nelson, Director, Marketing for Small and Medium Business division, Dell UK, said: “As a result of rising energy prices and global environmental concerns, green business practices are a hot topic in today’s marketplace. If correctly implemented, these practices can lead to significant cost savings and increased profitability. As such, embracing environmentally responsible practices often makes smart business sense.”

“But being environmentally smart in the office extends beyond switching to energy efficient light-bulbs and turning off heating when it is not in use,” continued Nelson, Dell UK. “Knowing where to begin to reduce carbon footprint can be daunting, particularly for small businesses so Dell has put together some easy to implement top tips to help businesses.”

Tips from Dell:-

- Consider power management software. It can remotely switch PCs off and on and automatically saves any documents open on the screen. PCs can be set to come on in the mornings, ready for when employees get into the office.

- Default printers to print double sided and do the same for photocopies; this reduces the amount of paper used.

- Consider virtual working methods which allow employees to work from home and utilise ‘hot desks’ when in the office. This can cut down the amount of office space and furniture required and the energy used.

- Invest in server consolidation and virtualisation technologies that are not only more energy efficient but also make better use of existing hardware.

- Invest in power efficient products. Many servers on today’s market for example, consume up to 25 per cent less energy than previous generations and many computers use up to 70 per cent less power than previous models.

- Recycle or donate end-of-life computer equipment. There are a number of services available to businesses that offer safe and environmentally acceptable IT disposal solutions. Additionally, the EU has introduced the Waste Electrical and Electronic.

- Equipment (WEEE) Directive, which means that manufacturers of electrical goods will be responsible for the safe disposal of their products, even after they are sold.


Read more!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Wal-Mart Gets $200 "Green" PC

Of all the retailers out there, Wal-Mart probably wouldn't rate high on environmentalists' lists of green retailers. But,that's where you're going to have to go if you want to get your hands on a new self-titled "green" PC that will cost just $199.

The Everex TC2502 gPC is a low-powered and limited-spec desktop computer that runs a version of Linux called Ubuntu rather than the much more popular Windows or Mac operating system. Ubuntu is a free operating system that looks and feels much like the competition, but doesn't offer the compatibility that even a Macintosh can offer to the ubiquitous Windows PC.

Linux has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years, finding itself installed in all sorts of devices. And, there are software applications out there for the operating system that will do everything you can do on a PC, including opening and reading files from most of the applications in Microsoft's Office suite. However, Office itself is not available, nor are most games. But given the seriously lightweight nature of the specs for this machine, you'd be hard-pressed to get any modern games to run anyway.

Those lightweight specs lead to reduced power consumption -- hence the "g" in the gPC name -- which is obviously aimed at the eco-mindful consumer.

As Engadget points out, however, this computer is rather wasteful in other regards. Internally, the system uses miniaturized components to help reduce power consumption and cost, but ironically the manufacturer throws them all into a big, plastic, non-biodegradeable full-sized case. Apparently this is due to Wal-Mart research that indicates its customers consider a larger PC to be a more powerful one, a notion that will make smart shoppers everywhere shake their heads.

Read more!