I spoke with Dell's green guru (aka Albert Esser, vice president of power and infrastructure) about two weeks ago, just before I disappeared on vacation. I hadn't gotten around to writing about that conversation yet, but today seems like a pretty good day to do so, what with the company achieving a pretty cool milestone in the design of power supplies.
It seems, in fact, that Dell is the first high-tech vendor to reach the Silver level under the 80 Plus power supply designation. (Esser writes about that development in a blog he posted on the Direct2Dell Web site.) That means Dell has managed to meet some power supply qualifications set forth by the Climate Savers Computing Initiative more than a full year ahead of schedule.
Here's the official "definition" of what it means to get an 80 Plus designation: "The 80 PLUS performance specification requires multi-output power supplies in computers and servers to be 80% or greater energy efficient at 20%, 50% and 100% of rated load with a true power factor of 0.9 or greater."
In English, this means that computers that use 80 Plus supplies use fewer watts of electricity during peak usage (16 watts on a desktop or 34 watts on a server); plus they reduce the draw on a circuit, which means you can put more computers on the same brand circuit.
You'll hear Dell continue to talk up green tech across its product line, but one thing that Esser is passionate about communicating is the fact that more than 40 percent of carbon emissions contributed to the atmosphere by information technology products is attributable to client systems (like desktops and notebooks and probably printers, too) as opposed to those housed in the data center (which contribute an estimated 23 percent of the technology-generated carbon emissions).
"If you look at all of the activity around data centers, they are really spending a lot of effort, time and money to address 23 percent of the issue," notes Esser. Power usage is another matter entirely, of course, but even in that space, client systems can have a tremendous impact. Power management software vendor 1E figures the simple action of switching a desktop off at night could save $40 per computer, per year. Across the United States, this would translate into $1.72B savings and almost 15 million tons of CO2 emissions diverted from the atmosphere.
Thus, Dell's proclamation that it will cut power consumption for its desktops and notebooks by 25 percent between now and 2010.
It's also working on something it has claimed will be the world's greenest PC, a device that will be about 80 percent smaller than a traditional PC, made out of recyclable materials, that consumes 70 percent less power.
Esser won't talk price for the as-yet-unnamed product, but there's one other thing about which he is passionate: Green IT shouldn't be prohibitively expense. In fact, it should be about simply making the right business choices for energy efficiency. "From what I can see, we can achieve our goals with a slight price increase, but this is not something that will break the bank. In fact, the energy efficiency will pay back in months or even quicker," he predicts.
Guess we'll have to wait and see, but the power supply move means we need to chalk another one up for Dell in the battle for green tech innovation.