Fujitsu Siemens’ Zero-Watt PC Gets Cautious Welcome


Fujitsu has launched what it claims is a zero watt PC but experts claim power usage is only part of the problem

Computer maker Fujitsu Siemens has developed technology to dramatically cut PC energy usage in standby mode while still allowing the machine to be updated and managed by IT admins.

Launched at the CeBIT 2009 technology show in Hanover, Germany, this week, Fujitsu Siemens claims PCs equipped with its “Zero-Watt” technology do not consume any power in off-mode or hibernation but can still be managed.

The O-Watt functionality will be available in the companies Esprimo E7935 0-Watt and Esprimo P79350 models this summer. According to Fujitsu-Siemens, the new desktops are capable of going into a zero-Watt standby automatically, “without someone using the hard-off switch or the off switch at the power outlet”.

IT admins also have the option to set a time slot in which the PC automatically wakes up and is waiting for updates. “Once the time slot is over, it goes back into 0 Watt standby. The user can turn on the PC again with the usual “on” switch at the front of the PC,” the company claims.

However while some analysts have pointed out the energy and financial savings that can come with improved PC power management, some environmental IT experts claim that energy efficiency is only part of the story when it comes to sustainable technology.

According to Tony Roberts, founder of environmental IT charity Computer Aid International, turning off PCs at night and improving energy efficiency is a start but vendors need to address the entire life-cycle of devices from manufacture to disposal to really offset the negative impact of technology on the environment.

The production of an average PC consumes 10 times its weight in fossil fuels and a total of 2.5 metric tonnes of materials, said Roberts. “Given the high environmental cost of PC production it is imperative to end the short life cycle and the wasteful ‘relace and dump’ culture. We need OEMs to redesign PCs with an upgrade path to allow us to extend their life and we need to encourage companies to donate their older PCs to social re-use programmes,” he added.

According to 2003 academic study, Computers and the Environment: Understanding and Managing Their Impacts, 75 percent of the environmental harm caused by PC use occurs in the extraction, manufacture phases of the life-cycle – before a PC is used for the first time.

Computer Aid takes donated IT from the European businesses and sends it to the developing world for use in schools, colleges, hospitals and other social projects.