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Exploring Human Potential

How Computing’s Bumping Up Against Energy and Health

Posted on | September 12, 2006 | No Comments

Used to be the doubling of computing power was simply a question of human ingenuity. But now energy power may be the ultimate limitation. In fact, arch rivals Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, or AMD, are battling it out on an energy playing field.

Consider AMD’s Times Square billboard that ticks off the dollars AMD says companies lost by using Intel chips rather than their own. The number topped one billion in June 2006, according to a Wall Street Journal article. AMD says its new Opteron microprocessors run 20% to 30% more efficiently than Intel’s.

Why go green? Customer needs are certainly part of the answer. From brokerage house servers running too hot to portable batteries running too short … if energy is time, and time is money, then green differentiates.

In the past decade, CPUs have been redesigned to run cooler; CRTs are out and LCDs are in, using 1/3 the power; disk drives go to sleep when not in use; and power cord converters of AC to DC, the big black bricks, must now be 80% efficient vs. 60%.

Why all the concern about energy consumption? Microsoft consumption at its data center has doubled in 4 years and will triple over the next five, the Journal says. That’s why Microsoft and Yahoo are building their new plants in Quincy, Washington, where they’’ll pay 1.8 cents a kilowatt hour (the national average is 5.1 cents a kilowatt hour). That’s a big deal since up to 50% of the total cost of running a data center can be the cost of electricity. Google is making a move to the same general area as well.

The point is that energy is now computing, computing is information, information is searching, searching is decision making, decision making is lifespan planning, and lifespan planning is health. Therefore energy is health.

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