Tuesday May 29, 2007

Fraunhofer Institute study shows economic and ecological advantages of thin clients

A recent study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Oberhausen, Germany showed that thin clients can significantly reduce costs, energy consumption and CO2 output. The study considered production, transportation, use and disposal phase of traditional "wintel" PCs vs typical thin clients and the servers necessary for their use. While its important that a respected institute for environmental science did this study, in my opinion, the study underestimated the potential savings in energy usage and CO2 output. The study did not specifically consider Sun Ray ulta-thin clients (4 Watts), but even the 14-19 Watt IGEL thin clients considered in the study required much less energy than a typical desktop PC (68-96 Watts) in the use phase. The study concluded that, "Even when including the cooling power for the server, which has been estimated conservatively as twice the required power, thin clients use significantly less energy than PCs (factor 2)".1 Obviously when you add production, transport and disposal costs, thin clients win hands down. Thin and ultra-thin clients don't yet meet the average hacker or gamer's desktop needs, but for most enterprise uses, the advantages are becoming clearer every day. You can find a pdf report on the full study here.

1The study appeared to overlook the fact that typical enterprise use of desktop PCs also requires a server.

Article resubmitted to correct spelling in title, article and permalink. Thanks Rudi!

Tuesday Mar 27, 2007

Science Newsflash, temperature causes CO2 not vice-versa

I heard this fascinating science tidbit on NPR's Living on Earth program:

"It appears that temperature appears to drive CO2 and not vice versa." -- U.S. Senator James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma (former chairperson of the U.S. Senate committee on the environment)

I only had a few years of university Chemistry and only a B.S. in physics so I may have missed the chapter on carbon alchemy that great physics minds like Einstein, Hawkins and Inhofe are aware of. Actually in a way he is correct:

C + O2 + heat ---> CO2

(o.k. heat and temperature aren't the same thing but we'll pretend) In simpler terms:

Carbon (e.g. Coal) + Oxygen + heat ---> CO2(Carbon Dioxide)

Was Inhofe was correct all along? No. As Al Gore responded, "One scientist said it's a stronger consensus than on anything except perhaps gravity." A grade school student can prove that burning carbon creates carbon dioxide. Any university lab can demonstrate that an atmosphere with more carbon dioxide traps more heat than an atmosphere with less. I'm unaware of any dispute over the strong evidence that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen over the past century. There is also good evidence that average global temperature is rising. The only serious doubt is whether human contribution to CO2 is a significant factor in global climate. There may be arguments against human caused global warming (e.g. If any solid evidence of a warming trend is found on Mars) and there are arguments against the Kyoto treaty (e.g. Industries are encouraged to move towards exempt economies with already high coal usage.), but Inhofe represents a weird political paradigm where so-called conservatives are more interested in conserving their own mindset than they are in conserving the ecological balance of our planet.

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