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 Post subject: Can Microsoft save the world?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:53 am 
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As Vista prepares for a delayed takeoff, I'm wondering if anyone knows whether Microsoft is going to do one small, very simple thing to reduce the power consumption associated with computing:

Eliminate the "screen saver" and blank the screen after, say, 30 minutes of inactivity.

As we change from CRTs to LCDs the impact of this change is, sadly, a lot less than it would have been 3 years ago. But there are still a lot of CRTs out there, and in any event even putting LCDs to standby saves some power.

I hate, hate, hate walking by an office at night and seeing the stupid Windows logo bouncing around, proclaiming "I'm wasting power!" In fact, if one of those crackers out there wants to do something productive with their skills, they should devote their energies to writing a virus that changes the power settings of all infected computers to turn off the monitor after 30 minutes.

Any thoughts on this? I think the major points of resistance to this will be from sysadmins who have to deal with irate, clueless users complaining about their computers "turning off." But if there can be a simultaneous marketing/education campaign, maybe sysadmins would be willing to take a bullet for the sake of reducing power consumption...


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:13 am 
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That would be an ingenious thing to do.

I for one always turn my monitor off when I leave the room. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:50 pm 
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I hope MS has improved the standby functionality with Vista in general. I used to set my PC to go into Standby after 10 or 15 minutes of inactivity, but XP tends to ignore the fact that I’m in the middle of downloading something and switches to standby anyway. So now I don’t set it to do this, which means that if I leave the computer on it stays on until I come back to it. This rarely happens as I’m quite conscientious about sticking it in standby, but for people who aren’t this way there’s a lot of potential for wasting energy.
I set the monitor to automatically turn off after 5 or 10 minutes of inactivity and that works fine.

As you said yourself, it’s about education. Unless governments mandate automatic standby mode for PCs with no over-ride facility allowed, it will take a lot to get MS to voluntarily do this. Maybe Apple could set a good example here! The fact that they produce their own computers means they could standardise on this feature for all their PCs which would be less confusing for the marketplace.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:45 pm 
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I wonder if it isn't possible to organize and lobby Microsoft to make this change? They could probably throw a team at it for 1 hour and come up with a good solution to the education problem, too, such as:

* First time it happens, Clippy pops up and says, "In order to save power, I'm going to shut off the monitor, but you can turn it back on just by moving your mouse or keyboard. Microsoft loves trees! Yay!" (j/k about the Clippy part)
* Or, the first five times it happens you get a screensaver, not a blank screen, that says essentially the same thing, with plenty of opportunities to opt out. "Yes, I want to help save power. No, I am a selfish jerk!"


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:19 pm 
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Just starting to do some research into the actual power consumed by a CRT or LCD monitor. The University of Waterloo claims
Quote:
There is virtually no power-saving advantage to powering off your CRT monitor. The energy consumed to keep your tube warm may extend the life of the monitor itself and in the end may save the University more by leaving it on.

(link)

They go on to conclude that all computers should be left on all the time because, um, it helps with virus def updating.

True, the amount of power a computer uses is pretty minimal compared with, say, a supercollider that might be at a lot of these places. Is the power consumed by our PCs really that negligible?

(BTW the real way MS can save the world is to not force us to upgrade our GPUs with Vista... but one battle at a time...)


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:47 pm 
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Oh god. I wouldn't trust UW's Information Systems and Technology to assemble my computer. Last I checked, the CRT at my parents' house was at room temperature after being turned "off" overnight, and visibly warmer after some time on... so I don't know what the heck they're talking about with keeping the tube warm. I think they may be saying to just let it enter standby ("with yellow light") and don't bother pressing the button. (To their credit, most computers I saw on campus do put monitors into standby automatically).

I dunno where they arrived at the 35 W "sleeping" figure for a computer.

There are no supercolliders at UW (at least that I know of...). Just your usual high tech or otherwise expensive gadgets, lots of buildings to heat, and of course the rampant overillumination.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 8:14 pm 
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Is much energy used when powering screen on and off?

I was just thinking that as annoying as screensavers are when in the middle of something, they end with a quick tap of the mouse. However when a screen is off, it takes a few seconds to come back on. This is not only more annoying but I suspect that, like a flourescent light, this off and on again uses more power than if the screen had been on the whole time.

That's not to say it would never save power, but I was just thinking that sometimes screensavers might be more efficient than screen offing.

I almost always turn my screen off as a force of habit as I stand up from the computer. No power saving features on though :twisted:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 12:47 am 
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Quote:
like a flourescent light, this off and on again uses more power than if the screen had been on the whole time.


This is sometimes true, sometimes not:

http://www.nef.org.uk/energyadvice/myth ... tm#answer1

http://www.nef.org.uk/energyadvice/myth ... tm#answer9

Quote:
9. Leaving your PC screen switched on during the lunch break prolongs its life and doesn't waste much energy

First things first. Leaving the screen on over lunch may prolong the life in theory, but in practice how many office PC screens are thrown away because they have broken down, and how many because they have become superseded by more modern technology?

So how much energy will be saved if screens are switched off? The answer is "enough". Whilst in operation, most CRTs (cathode ray tubes, not the more expensive flat screen type) use between 30W and 200W. Oddly, smaller 14inch screens often use as much power as 17 inch screens. In even a medium-sized office, this is going to add up to a fair amount of energy being used. Of course many PCs will go into sleep mode if they are not being used, but do not assume this will happen. Screens do not use less energy when they are in screen saver mode (that's just designed to stop the phosphor coating being damaged), and even when they power down into sleep mode (typically after more than 20 minutes) they still use some energy.


Should I turn off fluorescent lights?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 3:05 am 
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smilingcrow wrote:
Maybe Apple could set a good example here! The fact that they produce their own computers means they could standardise on this feature for all their PCs which would be less confusing for the marketplace.


They already do - the G5 next to me goes into standby after around 15 mins of inactivity - that's the default setting.
And before that, the screen goes into a sort-of 50% illumination after 2 mins, then blank/off after 5.

The whole setup seems designed to conserve power - I think this may have been commented on in an SPCR review of the iMac in fact.

It IS a great idea to get MS to use more power-saving measures - for the 'default' user, that's fine, and for the tweaker, well they can easily adjust. I would like them not to hibernate when downloading, that's the same reason I turned off automatic standby on my laptop...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:57 pm 
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Natronomonas wrote:
And before that, the screen goes into a sort-of 50% illumination after 2 mins, then blank/off after 5.

I have my Windows PC set up almost sort of like that. Well, I mean as close as you can get without having the ability to dim the panel. At any rate, I set Windows to turn the screen saver on after 9 minutes, so if for some reason I really do still want to jump back into whatever I was working on (and idle for 9 minutes) I can just tap the keyboard or mouse and it's back in an instant. At 10 minutes it shuts off the LCD panel. So.. I guess if you're willing to work at it, you can get similar results.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 6:19 am 
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Quote:
but XP tends to ignore the fact that I’m in the middle of downloading something and switches to standby anyway.


Ha! Since when did any little feature like that ever work properly in Windows?

I especially enjoyed the old days with a modem connection and Windows would "time out" and disconnect while I was in the middle of downloading one of their patches. Hey Bill, can you spell DUH!?

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 Post subject: Re: Can Microsoft save the world?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:01 pm 
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padmewan wrote:
As Vista prepares for a delayed takeoff, I'm wondering if anyone knows whether Microsoft is going to do one small, very simple thing to reduce the power consumption associated with computing:

Eliminate the "screen saver" and blank the screen after, say, 30 minutes of inactivity.

As we change from CRTs to LCDs the impact of this change is, sadly, a lot less than it would have been 3 years ago. But there are still a lot of CRTs out there, and in any event even putting LCDs to standby saves some power.

I hate, hate, hate walking by an office at night and seeing the stupid Windows logo bouncing around, proclaiming "I'm wasting power!" In fact, if one of those crackers out there wants to do something productive with their skills, they should devote their energies to writing a virus that changes the power settings of all infected computers to turn off the monitor after 30 minutes.

Any thoughts on this? I think the major points of resistance to this will be from sysadmins who have to deal with irate, clueless users complaining about their computers "turning off." But if there can be a simultaneous marketing/education campaign, maybe sysadmins would be willing to take a bullet for the sake of reducing power consumption...


Why not just have people shutdown their computers when they go home? That would save not only the power from the CRT but also the power of the system. It also would save on the A/C system used to cool all of those computers just sitting there idling.


I shutdown my system every night.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:27 pm 
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Quote:
Why not just have people shutdown their computers when they go home? That would save not only the power from the CRT but also the power of the system. It also would save on the A/C system used to cool all of those computers just sitting there idling.


This can work in some offices but in many corporate settings it could create problems. Many large offices "push" upgrade and updates to workstations after regular working hours. They often also run automated scanning and backup operations during non-working hours. All of this requires that the machines be in at least a standby state and responding to WOL (wake-on-lan) or WOR (wake-on-ring) access. Servers usually need to be powered up at all times.

The screen isn't needed for these operations but the system itself needs to be available.

Many large offices, especially in newer building have begun shutting down AC (or at least raising the required ambient temperature) after working hours as a means to conserve energy.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 7:21 am 
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Foreign Policy's blog has picked up this idea, with some numbers, too (45 million tons of CO2 annually, about the same as the output of Ireland, by switching office computers to Sleep for 12 hours/day.

And NyteOwl, while the point about software upgrades is a valid one, it doesn't take all night for most upgrades to take place. Scheduling your computers to turn out at 5 am and then spending 2 hours installing them hardly seems unreasonable to me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:42 pm 
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To be honest, and even bigger savings is just by stopping the purchasing of desktop computers entirely. I've been through 3 companies in the last 4 years and not a single one of them has given us desktop systems, each gave us an IBM Thinkpad. Laptops have inherently low power usage, especially when not paired with an external display they have VERY low usage compared to a desktop + display. As a bonus, laptops are also the best suited to have multiple reliable sleep states as well as naturally low usage just in general desktop use.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:44 am 
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NyteOwl wrote:
Quote:
Why not just have people shutdown their computers when they go home? That would save not only the power from the CRT but also the power of the system. It also would save on the A/C system used to cool all of those computers just sitting there idling.


This can work in some offices but in many corporate settings it could create problems. Many large offices "push" upgrade and updates to workstations after regular working hours. They often also run automated scanning and backup operations during non-working hours. All of this requires that the machines be in at least a standby state and responding to WOL (wake-on-lan) or WOR (wake-on-ring) access. Servers usually need to be powered up at all times.

The screen isn't needed for these operations but the system itself needs to be available.

Many large offices, especially in newer building have begun shutting down AC (or at least raising the required ambient temperature) after working hours as a means to conserve energy.


Some people might find this software interesting:

'SURVEYOR reduces your organization's energy consumption
PCs and their monitors are voracious consumers of electricity, and their energy use is soaring to keep pace with faster processors, more RAM, and power hungry peripherals. The average PC consumes 600 kWh (kilowatt-hours) annually. Worse, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 400 kWh—a full two thirds—of that electricity is wasted simply because most PCs are running at full power when no user is present.1 Since PC energy costs are not separate line items in utility bills, many budget managers are not aware of the high cost of powering their PC networks. While most PCs have energy-saving settings such as standby, hibernate and shutdown, over 80% of users disable their low-power settings.2 SURVEYOR solves this problem by giving managers network-level control over the power settings of all Microsoft Windows-based PCs, from Windows 95 to XP. Network managers can easily configure and maintain PC power settings across distributed networks to automatically send PCs into low-power states as needed, saving an average of 200 kWh per PC yearly (half of the energy that is typically wasted, and a third of the energy that is usually consumed).3 That's a cost savings of $15 to $40 per PC annually, depending on local electricity rates. And because SURVEYOR has built-in measurement capabilities, these network-wide energy savings can be verified.'

www.verdiem.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:11 am 
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AZBrandon wrote:
To be honest, even bigger savings is just by stopping the purchasing of desktop computers entirely. I've been through 3 companies in the last 4 years and not a single one of them has given us desktop systems, each gave us an IBM Thinkpad. Laptops have inherently low power usage, especially when not paired with an external display they have VERY low usage compared to a desktop + display. As a bonus, laptops are also the best suited to have multiple reliable sleep states as well as naturally low usage just in general desktop use.


One downside of laptops from an SPCR POV is that very few, if any, are optimised for low-noise operation; desktops are much more flexible in that regard. Given that many SPCRers use notebook HDD's and mobile CPUs (Mobile on the Desktop), we're slowly catching up with the low power consumption leaders.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 7:41 am 
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jaganath wrote:
One downside of laptops from an SPCR POV is that very few, if any, are optimised for low-noise operation; desktops are much more flexible in that regard. Given that many SPCRers use notebook HDD's and mobile CPUs (Mobile on the Desktop), we're slowly catching up with the low power consumption leaders.

Well true, I mean my high power P180 desktop system is more quiet and has a more pleasing quality of sound than my laptop, partly because I can put my P180 further away from me. I meant mainly just for the workplace however which is typically so noisy in the cube farms that the laptop isn't much of a contributor to the noise.

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 1:03 pm 
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They need to do a Windows Update to do this. Bill could save a lot more CO2 that way, for free than with whatever initiative he is doing. 10 minutes to sleep, and deleting screen saver mode would be a HUGE start. They should leave in monitor off, but PC on mode for people that need a 24/7 PC, but want to turn the monitor off.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:55 am 
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AZBrandon wrote:
To be honest, and even bigger savings is just by stopping the purchasing of desktop computers entirely. I've been through 3 companies in the last 4 years and not a single one of them has given us desktop systems, each gave us an IBM Thinkpad. Laptops have inherently low power usage, especially when not paired with an external display they have VERY low usage compared to a desktop + display. As a bonus, laptops are also the best suited to have multiple reliable sleep states as well as naturally low usage just in general desktop use.


Green computing is not only about power usage.
I think laptop batteries aren't exactly enviormental friendly.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 4:06 am 
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i don't know why no one has ever sucessfully produced a displayless, batteryless, keyboardless (or maybe not?) 'laptop' to replace a desktop. i'm sure a manufacturer could easily adapt their case design for little cost, they would give a huge saving in space, much better aesthetics, would be ideal for a media pc (in place of ur dvd player), much easier/cheaper to transport, enormously lower power... [the savings on air con alone in high-density environments would be huge, not to mention the NOISE]
but instead we have had over-priced, ugly shuttle bread boxes and optiplexes?

you could even have 19vDC terminals at [some] officies/labs etc so u don't even need a power brick each. (i assume it would be more efficient to deal with it all together?)

the more i think of it the more i like the idea..

and a little more on the original topic; i really like the idea of having the screen dimm as a power-save option! and i'd like to see mucch lower brightness settings for use in low-light/night conditions toooo. Think of all the pretty [er, i mean cool/futuristic looking] things apple could have done with it though; gradient fade etc, lol.

and there is NO excuse for leaving PCs on 24/7 (i am talking particularly about corp/lab environments) other than lazy/incompetent/ignorant admins; WOL works, from OFF, and S3 is much better than 'on' if not.

Quote:
One downside of laptops from an SPCR POV is that very few, if any, are optimised for low-noise operation; desktops are much more flexible in that regard. Given that many SPCRers use notebook HDD's and mobile CPUs (Mobile on the Desktop), we're slowly catching up with the low power consumption leaders.
many laptops are virtually fanless (possible for normal use with undervolting.. i must admit to not following C2D on laptop much), so all u need to add is solid state storage and ur there. whilst most are above SPCR (i would say mainly due to the character of the noise, volumes tend to be low most of the time ie when fans are off) they are quieter than your typical PC. my point is u can do a lot more to reduce/remove noise on a laptop than u can to reduce power on a desktop.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:54 am 
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Quote:
i don't know why no one has ever sucessfully produced a displayless, batteryless, keyboardless (or maybe not?) 'laptop' to replace a desktop.


iMac has a display, but is similar idea; you only have to look at the cost of an iMac to see why the idea has not taken off. Also this is a similar thing, PC integrated into a keyboard:

http://www.cybernetman.com/default.cfm?DocId=602

generally space is not at that much of a premium in a commercial environment.

Quote:
my point is u can do a lot more to reduce/remove noise on a laptop than u can to reduce power on a desktop.


it seems like it is the other way round to me; most laptops have proprietary cooling solutions, so very difficult to mod for quiet, whereas there are lots of ways to reduce power on desktop, eg 2.5" HDD, mobile CPU, PicoPSU etc.


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