When it comes to hardware innovation, we need more progress on eco-materials

When it comes to hardware innovation, we need more progress on eco-materials

Summary: It used to be that the big high-tech companies would crow about this or that latest feature or speed enhancement when attempting to one-up their rivals. Now, the competitive posturing is just as like to be about energy efficiency as anything else.

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TOPICS: Hewlett-Packard
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It used to be that the big high-tech companies would crow about this or that latest feature or speed enhancement when attempting to one-up their rivals. Now, the competitive posturing is just as like to be about energy efficiency as anything else.

Case in point: technology giant Hewlett-Packard is out on the road right now trumpeting the fact that its current generation of products (and that includes everything from servers to notebooks to multifunction printers) is a least 50 percent more energy-efficient than they were five years ago.

What does that mean? Well, if you were to rip and replace every display, printer, PC or server that was shipped in 2005 and replace it with a current generation product, it would save an estimated $10.4 billion in energy costs. Or, to think about it another way, HP Vice President of Environmental Sustainability Engelina Jaspers says it would be the equivalent of taking 10 coal-fired power plants off the grid for a year.

Now, of course, companies aren't going to simply rip and replace all their IT for the sake of saving power. Let alone switch it over just for energy efficency features. But HP's achievement (which it managed nine months ahead of its original target of 40 percent efficiency) is worth thinking about for a moment, because it illustrates how dramatically product development priorities have shifted in just one product generation.

It also illustrates the need for better electronic waste management strategies, across the board, not just for consumers but for businesses that are getting rid of their old stuff. It also heightens my interest in the materials that are inside these new products. Are we moving quick enough to embrace new component technologies that are safer to dispose of at the end of their useful life. Or that can find a second life, if you will, in some other capacity?

Here's hoping that the next generation of product innovation from HP, Dell, IBM and the other IT hardware leaders will focus squarely on the physical impact of their products on the environment. I'm not hearing enough noise on that front yet.

Topic: Hewlett-Packard

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6 comments
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  • We need faster Hard drives

    We need faster Hard drives. Thats the bottleneck in computers. Ram is fast,hard drive space abundant video cards are super fast and have plenty of ram most of which isn't even being used by the game makers. I think hardware had topped out except the stated above
    Stan57
  • If only ...

    What we need to do instead of buying individual PC's is to adopt a network terminal and cloud strategy ( a la SUN Microsystems, RIP) for a goodly part of our computing needs (not necessarily all).

    The power of harware has allowed this for some time ... it is primarily network capability that has held the architecture back. Consider, if you will, how much CPU power and energy is wasted in a typical 4-core desktop.

    I would guess that an efficient architecture would produce an order of magnitude efficiency gain at the least. Hopefully the iPad, Google's 'PC', optical networking and the advance of virtualisation will make this obvious.

    Whether the current incumbents will pass on the benefits probably has two chances: fat chance and slim chance :-(
    jacksonjohn
    • RE: When it comes to hardware innovation, we need more progress on eco-materials

      @johnfenjackson@...

      Um, excuse me? The only thing what you are suggesting does is to put the high power needs equipment somewhere else, it doesn't totally get rid of it.

      As to CPU power and energy being wasted in a desktop? N O ! The fact is that modern processor throttle themselves down when they are not under heavy load, sometimes to 1/4th or less of the clock speed they use when they are under heavy load. They decrease their power needs accordingly as well.
      Lerianis10
  • Ignoring those off-topic comments...

    Absolutely right. There needs to be a lot more improvement in total lifecycle environmental cost, not just lower electrical consumption.

    Good to see such progress, though.
    Greenknight_z
  • With all due respect, it's time to live in reality

    The fact is that tech is always being obsoleted at a quick pace. Now, if you are saying that recycling of tech equipment needs to be easier? That I actually agree with and manufacturers are trying to improve that.
    Lerianis10
  • RE: When it comes to hardware innovation, we need more progress on eco-materials

    Really glad Heather wrote this story. And at Dell we think when discussing this, it's important not to isolate one area but include several like energy savings, materials used and companies committment to recycling.

    We think we have a strong track record in all those areas and are proud of what we have accomlished. Since 2008 Dell has reduced the energy use of its laptops and desktops by 25 percent. Dell's recycling efforts both for consumers and business customers has been praised by many third parties including the Electronic Takeback Coalition.

    We'll continue to press forward to make develop earth friendly products and solutions and look forward to the conversation.
    bob kaufman