Google, Intel and various other computer companies announced an effort to increase energy efficiency in PCs. The goal is to equip standard desktop PCs and servers with power supplies that have an efficiency of over 90%.
This will cut power consumption and reduce the heat output of computers. CNET reports:
Roughly 50 percent of the power delivered from a wall socket to a PC never actually performs any work, according to Urs Hölzle, Google fellow and senior vice president of operations. Half the energy gets converted to heat or is dissipated in some other manner in the AC-to-DC conversion. Around 30 percent of the power delivered to the average server gets lost, he added. The power in both cases is lost before any work is accomplished by a computer: later, even more energy is lost by PCs sitting idle, or as heat dissipated by other components.
By adopting more energy-efficient components, PCs and servers can utilize 90 percent or more of the electricity delivered to them. Google's own servers, in fact, are already 90 to 93 percent efficient.
"This is not a technology problem. We have power supplies with 90 percent efficiency shipping today," Hölzle said.
The problem is cost, said Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president of the Digital Enterprise Group at Intel. Making a PC more power efficient in this manner adds about $20 to its retail cost, and it adds about $30 to the cost of a server.
Part of the initiative is to figure out ways to eliminate this price difference, Gelsinger added. Some utilities, such as California's Pacific Gas and Electric are toying with giving consumers rebates for buying energy-efficient PCs. Volume production will eventually eliminate any additional costs, he said. Chances are, energy-efficient PCs and servers will take off in Japan, Europe and North America first, and later in more cost-conscious markets like China.