If achieved, the CSCI efficiency target would constitute a vast improvement on the current state of play, where the efficiency of desktops is in the region of 50% and servers under 70%. The resulting energy savings has been estimated by the CSCI group to be to taking 11 million cars off the road or shutting down 20 coal fired power plants.
The CSCI initiative appears to focus on the more overt factors behind power consumption, such as improving the efficiencies of power supplies and cables, improved monitor efficiency, and better use of power management software already installed on computers. There is also a stated intention to look at improving motherboard efficiency in "a year or two".
What has not been said, however, is that the CSCI members who are pursuing the admirable goal of making computer power supplies more efficient are the same companies driving Moore's law with its requirement for ever more powerful and power hungry processors and memory. They are the same companies driving the goal of selling the next billion and two billion computers into the third world. And they are the same companies building ever more massive server farms designed to house the world's repository of information.
There can be no argument against the aims of CSCI because the reduction of energy usage through more efficient power supplies and improved power management are admirable goals. However, any truly holistic approach to reducing the energy consumption of the computer industry must also realistically address the issue of the never ending quest for more computing power, more memory and more market saturation with power hungry devices.
We all like our computers, Internet and gadgets but let's not kid ourselves that the problem of the increasing energy we consume using our devices will be solved without sacrificing what we simply want for what we really need.