IT intelligence: Power saving

Robin Fisk continues his series on greener IT with some power-saving tips.

I used to blame Mrs Thatcher for most things, but now I blame her ideological offspring the Spice Girls. Consumer power is king: we do get what we really, really want. And green is what we want.

Carrier bags are now public enemy number one. We care about how much carbon dioxide our cars cough out. But do we really want greener IT yet?

Major technology corporations rarely do anything without a bottom-line reason, so that's a good place to start looking for evidence of green consumer pressure.

Two leading IT suppliers make impressive claims about their environmental concerns. Dell says it is committed to becoming the greenest technology company on the planet and provides an emissions-avoided figure on some products. HP publishes its environmental goals on its website, along with achievements to date. If volume of words is anything to go by, they appear to care.

One UK PC manufacturer is producing PCs and servers that run on a fraction of the power consumed by conventional machines. VeryPC's GreenPC and GreenServer use laptop components to build properly specified machines - not the cheapest units, but they will save power. Granted, the environmental impact of the manufacturing process is greater than the savings these might make, but if you need a PC, why not buy a green one?

When you have charged your device and unplugged it from the charger, the charger still consumes power. Green Plug has developed a gadget that tells the power supply when to stop pulling power. It can support many devices, and cables and connectors are uniform. This could prevent the profligate disposal of power supplies - 3.2 billion external power supplies will be manufactured in 2008, with most eventually bound for landfill.

- Robin Fisk is managing director of software company Fisk Brett.

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