We often take for granted the amount of energy personal computers consume. A typical PC will draw anywhere from 20 to 300 watts depending on usage patterns and configuration.
For instance, the Apple MacBook Air that I used to compose this post is running at about 25 watts. I know this because at the Verdiem office, I jack-in via a watt meter so that I can monitor my energy consumption. If I fire up my external LCD monitor my system can pull up to 65 watts. Dial the brightness down to about 33% on the external monitor, and I hit a steady state of about 46 watts. This is a far cry from the 9 watts idle specification published by Apple. No doubt this was achieved using ideal system settings and lab conditions.
If I look around the office, my configuration appears to be more efficient than most. A software developer’s workstation is likely the least efficient – at least when considered from a direct energy consumption perspective. After all, those workstations are used to create Verdiem’s IT energy management software! A developer’s workstation is typically a pretty powerful dual core machine with lots of memory and fast, moderately sized hard drive. The system itself runs at about 70 watts. Add in at least two external monitors and you’re at about 150 watts. I know some of our developers are avid gamers as well. A kick-ass gaming system with a 50” plasma monitor is likely to pull down 800+ watts while in active use.
So what does this all mean? It’s pretty abstract to think about these things in terms of “watts” as most of us haven’t dealt in those terms since high school physics. Here is a breakdown that might make it more tangible.
While I am not consuming anywhere close to 9 watts (Apple’s idle power spec for my model), depending on my usage level, my MacBook Air will cost me anywhere from $7 to $42 per year. The developer’s system will burn anywhere from $35 to $145, and the gamer $137 to $771! Now the data collection and procedures here were far from scientific, but I hope a few key points were illustrated.
- Our computing devices can consume significant energy. If you are not actively using the system, you are wasting energy and MONEY.
- Energy consumption and waste can vary greatly based on system type and configuration.
- Effective power management can have a significant impact on energy consumption and cost.
- For high-power purpose-built systems, the energy consumption and savings opportunities are amazing. The gaming system example saves 7523 pounds of CO2 per year. That’s the equivalent of taking one full size car off the road!
When you consider power management at scale, the savings opportunities are huge. This is why we are so passionate about our power management solution at Verdiem. Our customers regularly see savings from 30% to 60% on personal computer energy costs. An organization with 30,000 employees can save up to $1.4 million dollars every year and will usually achieve 100% ROI in about 6 months.
Conceptually, this is pretty simple stuff. When systems are not in use, make sure they and all their peripherals are in the lowest possible power state. In reality, there are challenges and complexity involved with implementing effective power management at scale. I’ll address some of these in subsequent posts.