Via debuts 'green' chip

Taiwanese chipmaker introduces a "carbon-free" processor, by which it pledges to contribute to environmental projects in conservation, reforestation and alternative energy.

Taiwanese chipmaker Via Technologies has announced a new eco-friendly desktop processor.

The Via C7-D processor, available in clock speeds of 1.5GHz and 1.8GHz, has a maximum power consumption of just 20 watts.

Launched in 2001, Intel's earlier Pentium 4 1.8GHz desktop processor consumes about 67 watts of power, while AMD's Athlon XP 2100+ running at 1.73GHz, introduced in 2002, zaps up 72 watts. Both companies, however, have since reduced the power consumption of their chips. Even with two processing cores, Intel's Core Duo 1.5GHz processor now just consumes 15 watts of power.

The Via chip also complies with the European Union's RoHS Directive that restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. Intel's most recent platform product releases are also RoHS-compliant, and some prior generation platform products are available in RoHS-compliant versions, according to the company's Web site.

At press time, a Via spokesperson could not confirm price details of the new C7-D processor, or when it will be commercially available in PCs.

"With an optimal blend of power efficient design, productivity driven performance and advanced security features, it gives us great pride to offer the Via C7-D processor as the world's first carbon-free computing solution," said Richard Brown, Via Technologies' marketing vice president, in a statement Thursday.

According to the chipmaker, the C7-D processor is described as "carbon-free" because Via will "offset" carbon emissions produced when the chip is in use, by contributing to environmental projects in conservation, reforestation and alternative energy.

The carbon-offsetting projects will be facilitated by Carbon Footprint, a company that specializes in the management of carbon footprint, which it defines as "the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide".

John Buckley, managing director of Carbon Footprint, said in the statement: "Around the world, we are seeing a growing interest from companies and individuals looking to 'do their bit' in reducing their carbon footprint as a way to ensure future generations will inherit a world we can be proud of."

"Products such as the VIA C7-D processor is certainly a step in the right direction for organizations looking to neutralize the carbon dioxide emissions of their operations," Buckley said.

In addition, Via said it has introduced a new systems-benchmarking tool TreeMark, to help organizations that want to balance the environmental impact of their computing purchase decisions.

Dell Computer's founder and chairman Michael Dell, had raised the issue of hazardous substances in computer equipment last month in Singapore.

"We're doing a lot to change the nature of the materials that go into our products," Dell said. "We can make them use less power, take the lead out of them and substitute hazardous substances to make them environment-friendly."