For those of you who don't know, Intel's famous co-founder Gordon Moore stated in 1965 that the number of transistors on a chip (read power) would double every two years. With Moore's Law proving correct, it would seem paradoxical for Intel to be hosting an event concerned with reducing the environmental impact of computers. Or would it?
At the Climate Savers media event, Intel's Lorie Wigle, global leader of Intel’s Eco-Technology effort and co-chairperson of the Board of Directors and president of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, was clear that computers had a big role to play in the fight against greenhouse gases.
"Improving the energy efficiency of computers is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” she explained.
Not so clear, however, is how the incessant drive toward more powerful computers with more powerful processors is congruent with the drive to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
As Intel correctly points out, greenhous gas emissions is by no means just about the desktop. Consolidation and rationalisation of server resources through virtualisation and other methods as a means of reducing power consumption is becoming standard practice at many data centres.
But what about the desktop? Please read on to page 2
At the desktop, however, the issue becomes somewhat murkier. Once again, Intel correctly maintains that there are practical ways all of us desktop users can reduce our power consumption.
According to Intel, the average desktop PC wastes nearly half the power it pulls from the wall as heat. Once again, Intel seems to have an answer for this.
There is a discernable move to replace bulky power hungry desktops with their multiple fans and monstrous hard drives to much leaner and power efficient notebooks. Some of these even have solid state drives and no moving parts.
According to Intel, the move toward multi-core processors, which enables greater processing throughput without having to crank up clock speeds and power consumption is part of the solution.
In the past, the so-called Wintel alliance specialised in forcing consumers to buy new computers every two or three years. Microsoft and other software vendors would release new software that needed more powerful processors, more memory and bigger hard disks.
Intel and other hardware vendors of course gladly obliged by bringing new more power hungry products to market. Then in an unending vicious cycle the software vendors led by Microsoft embarked on the next grand project to make our existing hardware worthless.
So should Intel and Microsoft be hung, drawn and quartered for their strategy? Please read on to page 3
One can hardly blame Intel or even Microsoft for initiating the Wintel alliance. They're in business to make money and over the years, Wintel has arguably succeeded in dramatically lowering the cost of hardware and even software if you choose to go the open source route.
The short answer is you don't. Unless you're a serious gamer or CAD engineer, anyone who buys even an average notebook computer from a corner store already has far more computing power than they should ever need.
Anyone who doubts the above statement should take a look at what you can do with a tiny relatively underpowered little sub-notebook like the Asus Eee PC.
If we're really serious about reducing the IT carbon footprint, it's time to bring both hardware and desktop software makers to account and let them know that less is more not Moore.