02 August 2007

The Greening of Computing

You may notice that I tend to post a lot on computing and computer related things (i.e. Google Maps). Well it might be because I am a nerd and I seek justification for my love of computers. Thankfully for my interests the recent "Green revolution" spawned by threats of global warming also extends to the technology industry.

Earth2Tech
, a recent entry to the blogosphere, did an excellent writeup today on the importance of green data centers. We all tend to focus on greening the devices and commodities that we see everyday, but what about those hidden computing centers from which we retrieve our information services such as e-mail and online documents. The article states that energy costs are approaching costs greater than 30% of the informational technology total. If you ponder it, these are systems that are always on and due to the global nature of the internet there isn't really a time when power demands can be scaled back. Hey, people across the international date line need MySpace too. The industry have every reason to focus on longterm investments in alternative localized energy sources as the cost of their energy needs begin to approach equipment cost.

Help is on the way for the conscientious, tech-savy consumer, enter Zonbu. Zonbu is lower-end computer device that uses 1/3 as much power as a standard light-bulb. The device is intended to use with your daily tech gadgets (cameras and iPods) and to provide access to internet based computing needs. It's Linux based and not really intended as a full fledged computer for gaming or power hungry applications, but lets be honest how many of us are really using our computers other than the internet, device management, and productivity applications. The pricepoint is reasonable at $99, though it does require a subscription service ($12.95/mo) for data storage. EcoGeek claims that you can make up for the subscription fees in utility savings. You can also purchase it straight out for $249. The subscription service includes support and firmware upgrades as well as centralized back up on the Zonbu servers. It's an excellent idea and I might be sold on the subscription based on the simplicity of such a device. Check out further information on EcoGeek and MetaEfficient. I wonder how energy efficient the Zonbu data center is.

In further green computing news, Inhabitat pointed out that Western Digital has begun releasing harddrives with energy efficiency in mind. Western Digital claims that these drives will save 13.8kg CO2 annually when compared with similar drives. If manufacturers continue on this trend then data centers may be able to quickly take advantage of economic savings through energy conservation.

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