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August 03, 2007

FAQ -- Green IT -- Energy Usage Comparison of Thin Client, Desktop PC's, Laptops and Others

rbtthinclient.jpg Much interest recently in the advantages of thin client over conventional client. Power consumption is one of those areas. Thinclient.org takes a look and here are some preliminary thoughts. Picture is of RBT units from BosaNova that use 7 watts..

Editor's Note: It's amazing so far the number of people that have copied this data/article. Some without compunction for noting the source. Oh Well..that's blogs..

Thinclient.org has used many different type and size of client devices. Thinclient.org has found that many numbers are overstated and many are understated. Overall if thinclient.org had to make our best estimate it would be that it is at very minimum a factor of 3x and up to a factor of +6x power savings that thin clients offer.

Big question now is what about business class Vista desktops/laptops with 256M video cards, large ram, big screens will be compared to the older XP Pro, 512M, 80G and 15" LCD...Vista may inadvertently drive corporate to smaller machines as extra power to run Vista (just for interface) is a cost to consider.

It's already a main thread thru the community that Vista is going to supercharge the already emerging "next wave" of thinclient enthusiasm.

It may well be another example of something and a plan having mainly "reverse outcome" results (ie instead of others converting to us, more others convert to opposite).

Some more thoughts.

  • Minimum Baseline: Scan range basically starts at the OLPC (which is very cool) as our minimal baseline. That has a 7.5" TFT LCD good to 1200x900 and its basically is 2 watt total. Recent news here is that Intel has decided public image is more important than competing with this. Also recent comments from Michael Dell about the unit were very much out of place. This unit is a modern miracle for third world countries without infrastructure (ie electricity everywhere).

  • Mini and Nano ITX motherboards -- The new Intel Celeron based D20 comes with a 12V power supply and consumes average of 25w. Graphs and numbers for the D201 and the VIA C7 are here.. Note the VIA C7 is less than 20w and of course the Geode is even less. Encouraging to see Intel for very first time going after this.

  • Business Desktop -- baseline for us is a fairly standard desktop pc with 3.0 Ghz Celeron, 512M, 7200 rpm drive and integrated graphics controller (Intel GMxx). That's going to be around 124 watt average power used for the PC by itself.

  • Conventional thin clients provided by companies such as Neoware, Wyse and BosaNova generally range in the 10-30 watt. Higher end units like e140 approach 50w but a desktop pc would require and additional (and more powerful) graphics adapter match it. Thin Clients are much nicer for network people since the number of "field trips" is cut by 10X. Plus most times users try and fix their own first and end up making it worse.

  • LCDs -- these are getting out of control...We would figure 15" monitors are obsolete with 17 inch monitors now standard (and fading). Those form factors are using 20-30w. As soon as you upgrade those to 19 then suddenly that doubles to 60w. People like us here at thinclient.org with our nice Dell 24 inch UltraSharp are running at 110w average (and lets not forget that Nvidia GS7900 that is using another 100w easy in my minitower that starts off at "only 127w".

  • Video Cards -- these are getting worse but Intel is trying to get toehold. Used to be a nice full height PCIe 256Mb 16 pipeline could be had for pc power supply rated for 300 or less. Now they start at 450 and going higher. Meanwhile the new GMA 3100 supports dual video so that starts to eliminate need for second graphics adapter for second video (yes, a lot of people use a second video monitor).

  • Hard Drives -- the days of 250G SATA-2 desktop hard drives is finite. More and more with 8G flash cards and heavy duty write cycles its doesn't make sense for local storage like that. Seagate does have new energy efficient drives but from IT standpoint its always true that the more storage at the desk they have, the more users will use that instead of the network (where it gets backed up). USB is up to 8G now and solid state. PCIe slots are going and hard drives are next...

  • Small Form Factor Panel-PCs -- the 15" versions are vanishing being replaced by 17s. Typically they are Celeron or Pentium Ms. They have 5400 rpm drives. You have units from IBM (Anyplace) or NCR (Advantage) to look at and those are running max power around 90-100w.

    Units from DTR are VIA 1Ghz C7 powered (or Geode) and 15" and 17". Those max consumptions are the VIAs. 17" is a total of 52w. The LX version of the 17 inch runs at 36w.

    Quite a bit lower than the Intel...Hmmm.

  • Laptop -- These are relatively low. A business class Dell Latitude 820 with 1.83 Ghz Pentium-M, 256MB and 60G hard drive is typical 47w. We wonder what a Vista-capable with higher end Core Duo, 2 GB Ram and large LCD would be....

  • Game Units -- interesting stuff here. The Microsoft and Sony boxes are running around 180w. Somehow Nintendo has their Wii unit under 20w.

  • Large PanelPC -- there is now a significant market for LCDs 32 inch and above. What do they consume? Imagine having a nice 37" LCD monitor with built-in VIA C7.. Now imagine 250 watts. Compared to PC/19inch I think you are almost net gain aren't we? You can also get those with 47" LCD. Now you are 350w (less than the new add-in 256MB video cards for a PC).

    PCs -- The PCs are losing devices (floppy, cd, internal slots) and their power supplies are going down from 275w to 220w to 160w to 135w (HP USDT). They are getting better remote management and monitoring.

    Useful Links

    Go Thin to Go Green.
    Publication: Business Wire
    Date: Wednesday, May 16 2007
    Subject: Personal computers (Green market), Atmospheric carbon dioxide

    New study shows thin clients are more energy efficient than comparable PCs by more than 50 percent

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Businesses in the United States are home to approximately 22.9 million desktop PCs. By switching from PCs to thin clients, U.S. businesses could save about $354.7
    million in electricity bills and slash CO2 emissions by about 2.45 billion pounds a year. IGEL Technology, the world's fastest-growing major thin client vendor, today announced that researchers from the world-renowned Fraunhofer Institute in Germany used IGEL Technology thin clients to investigate the power and CO2 emissions of thin clients against traditional business PCs and discovered significant power, environmental and financial savings.

    "Energy consumption for thin clients when in operation was up to 51 percent lower than for conventional PCs," concluded Dr. Hartmut Pflaum, the Fraunhofer researcher. "While PCs consume about 85 watts on average, thin clients including their server and data room cooling get by with only 40 to 50 watts. In view of climate change and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, this is an important factor."

    Using an estimate of 22.9 million business desktop PCs in operation around the U.S., businesses could be saving a total of about $354.7 million a year and cutting CO2 emission by about 2.45 billion pounds.

    "The financial savings are significant but the impact on cutting CO2 emissions is what's really impressive," said Stephen Yeo, strategic director of worldwide marketing for IGEL Technology. "Saving 2.45 billion pounds of CO2 emissions would remove the equivalent impact of 106,521 average U.S. households each year."

    "Add to this the typical 25 percent total cost of ownership (TCO) savings of buying and running a thin client compared to a PC and there can be no doubt that server-based computing is the economic and eco-friendly way forward," added Yeo.

    Thin clients are designed as a "super slimmed down" alternative to the PC. Accessing information stored on the server, thin clients have no moving parts and little memory while maintaining all the functionality of a PC. Due to this superior design, thin clients use less power, are more reliable and simpler to centrally manage.

    Thin clients easier on the environment, study claims
    Posted by Nicole Kobie at 12:56PM, Wednesday 4th April 2007

    Using a thin client system instead of conventional desktop PCs could cut British businesses emissions by 485,000 tons and save £78 million in electricity bills.

    Switching from PCs to energy-saving thin client systems could save British businesses millions, as well as cutting carbon emissions, according to Germany's Fraunhofer Institute.

    Researchers found that PCs use as much as twice as much electricity as a thin client-server system. "Energy consumption when in operation was up to 50 per cent lower than for conventional PCs," said Dr Hartmut Pflaum, a Fraunhofer researcher. "While PCs consume about 85 watts on average, thin clients including their server get by with 40 to 50 watts." Reducing the amount of power used by the estimated ten million PCs in UK businesses could reduce carbon emissions output by 485,000 tons a year, as well as saving £78 million in electricity costs.

    Thin clients access information held on servers but have no moving parts and little memory, so they use less power than traditional computers. As they're lighter, transportation is easier and more efficient, and as they're smaller, manufacture and disposal is easier on the environment, the study said.

    The strategic director of worldwide marketing for IGEL Technology, who provided the hardware for the research, Stephen Yeo said "the impact on cutting CO2 emissions is impressive." According to Yeo, saving 485,000 tons of emissions would remove the equivalent impact of 85,000 UK homes.

Posted by Staff at August 3, 2007 02:23 PM