Thursday, 05 June 2008 10:24

Wanted: one million Australians

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The Climate Savers Computing Initiative has arrived in Australia, and its movers and shakers are looking for one million people to commit to using more aggressive power management settings and to take energy efficiency into consideration when buying their next PCs.

The goal, according to Climate Savers Computing Initiative president Lorie Wigle, is to slash 50 percent from the energy used by PCs and servers by 2010. In Australia, this equates to slashing $100 million from energy bills.

Since around two percent of world energy use is accounted for by IT, a halving makes a significant overall difference. Theo Theophanous, Victorian minister for ICT, points out that the global target "would be like switching off Australia." (No cheap gags, please!)

Most operating systems and existing hardware support power management, so "we just need to leave it turned on," says Wigle. Simply using standby mode can reduce power consumption by 60 percent, she claims.

The initiative has broad support from the local IT industry, with representatives of the Australian Information Industry Association, Intel, Dell, Lenovo, EDS and CSC being present at the launch of the local campaign.

AIIA representative Ian Birks said "ICT must play a leadership role in driving the green transformation." The Climate Savers initiative "has practical targets and real outcomes," he added.

Frank De Petro, representing Dell, points out that most IT energy use takes place in data centres: around 1.5 percent of world consumption, which is roughly the same as that used by the world's TVs.

So if three-quarters of IT energy goes into data centres why make any fuss about desktop settings?

CONTINUED


Presumably because it delivers savings at practically no cost. Ensuring computers are switched off over the weekend and set to automatically sleep when idle delivers worthwhile savings with no investment other than changing people's habits.

De Petro suggests notebook systems are now so common that people are used to power management to conserve battery life, and so the issue is now about educating "the big end of town" to use it on desktop systems.

EDS representative Sundeep Khistry says his company manages three million desktops (probably the world's biggest fleet) with between 80,000 and 90,000 of them in Australia. Policy, programs and people need to work together he says, because "every drop counts".

He suggests tailoring power settings to suit different functions. Revenue generating users may need their computers to remain ready for use throughout the working day, while back-office employees may be able to work satisfactorily with computers that go into sleep mode with a relatively short delay.

Another possibility is that some users could be moved from desktops to notebooks, with a corresponding power saving.

But whatever method you think will work in your home or business, "It's time to stop talking about it and start doing something about it," says Intel's Sean Casey.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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