Bright Hub (BH): What is VIA doing for green computing?
Ben Hall: VIA has long taken an approach to product design that takes into account what impact its products and processes will have on the environment. With a focus on power efficiency throughout the design and manufacturing process since 2001, VIA is a proponent of green computing and leads the market in sustainable computing products.
Our VIA Green Computing Initiative is a natural extension of the philosophy of developing more environmentally friendly products, and covers a range of computing strategies (http://www.via.com.tw/en/initiatives/greencomputing), each aimed at highlighting different aspects of environmental responsibility.
Since the introduction of the VIA C3® processor in 2001, VIA has led the industry in the design of energy-efficient x86 platforms enabling a new generation of low power, small form factor computing devices. From thin clients to laptops to industrial computing systems, VIA processor platforms have built a reputation for leading performance per watt and cool operation.
In addition to energy efficient products, VIA has also pioneered the move to both lead and halogen free processor platforms as well as, in late 2006, introducing the world's first carbon free CPU.
BH: What barriers have you encountered with green computing?
Ben Hall: As soon as VIA recognized a need for environmentally friendly computing components and made the decision to develop them, the barriers were largely technological, and in that sense, fairly straightforward: how do you reduce the power draw of processors and chipsets without compromising performance? How do you identify viable alternatives for the many hazardous materials that are present in electronic componentry?
The more troublesome barrier has been trying to educate consumers on the importance of buying environmentally friendly computing devices. When it comes to computers, performance and functionality are the factors that have greatest impact upon buying decisions – and that is as it should be. Unfortunately, many (perhaps most) consumers and businesses have computers whose functionality far exceeds what is required.
What VIA is trying to do with its Green Computing Initiative is to make consumers aware that in many cases, it's possible to purchase far more energy efficient computers, which use far fewer dangerous materials, without at all affecting your productivity or computing experience.
BH: How much of a difference can upgrading to green products make? It costs money to upgrade or replace products, so what's the benefit?
Ben Hall: In general, computing devices should only be upgraded when they reach the end of their useful life or are no longer able to perform the tasks they were designed for. Until then, there are other ways to engage in eco-friendly computing. Computer electricity use is a growing global problem and also one that is relatively easy to combat.
Other than just switching the computer off when you're not using it, the simplest way of lowering power consumption is to optimize the computer's power settings. If you're using a Windows-based system, this can be done by entering the control panel and navigating to 'Power Settings'. A video tutorial showing how to go about this step-by-step is available on The Green Lounge: a website dedicated to green computing.
When upgrading becomes necessary, products that are energy efficient and have eliminated all possible hazardous materials should be considered first.
BH: Tell us about the main green computing solutions and how they make a difference.
Ben Hall: As in many fields, waste is the big environmental enemy when it comes to computing – here waste of energy and waste of related computing resources such as printer paper are top of the list. Together with the elimination and disposal of hazardous materials, these represent computing's greatest environmental issues.
Given the above, any computing solution that addresses these issues and provides some form of solution, makes a difference. VIA is focused on reducing the energy demands of computing devices, as well as limiting the hazardous materials that go into their production. Other companies refurbish discarded computers and either re-sell or donate them to various charities, thereby reducing the need for further device manufacture, and reducing the stress on our landfills. Still other companies are looking at ways to eliminate the billions of external power supplies that are manufactured yearly by promoting universal adaptors that are compatible with all electronic devices.
All these solutions have merit and all make a difference, but when it comes down to it, are only sustainable if the public gets behind and supports them.
About Ben Hall
Ben is a Senior Marketing Specialist in charge of Green Computing and Emerging Markets at VIA Technologies, Inc. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan, where he has been based for the last five years.