Google proposes new power standard

IDF: The search giant claims current PSU standards are outdated and harmful to the environment

Google has called for a new standard for power supply units (PSUs), claiming current units waste around a third of the electricity they consume.

In a white paper, launched at the Intel Developer Forum on Tuesday, Urs Hoelzle and Bill Weihl of Google argued that most PSUs needlessly provide multiple output voltages, a legacy of computing requirements 25 years ago but pointless today.

As a result, said the authors, the standard is outdated, particularly as manufacturers now routinely incorporate voltage regulator modules (VRMs) onto motherboards.

"Typical current efficiencies (including power supply and VRM losses) are in the 55-60 percent range today, that is, power supplies use 65-80 percent more power than necessary," said Hoelzle and Weihl.

The authors proposed that all manufacturers adopt the 12V PSU standard that the company itself uses for its servers, and claimed this would lead to "a dramatic improvement in efficiency (including the power supply and the regulators) to about 85 percent, at virtually no cost".

"We estimate that if deployed in 100 million PCs running for an average of eight hours per day, this new standard would save 40 billion kilowatt-hours over three years, or more than $5bn at California's energy rates," they continued.

Google was in talks with Intel to work towards the new standard, said the authors, who added: "It's the right solution technically, and the right thing to do for the environment."