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by Mike Zazaian September 26, 2006 - 11:10am, 1 Comment

A power supply connection

Two of Google’s leading data center designers called on the PC industry to modify outdated PC power supply standards, a move which they say will save billions of kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

The proposal, which came on Tuesday, suggested that the industry switch to a single 12-volt standard, a feat which could be accomplished with a partnership between motherboard and power supply manufacturers. Google will offer financial incentives to those who do strive to make more energy efficient power supplies, the likes of which currently vary between 20 and 90 percent efficiency around the market. The proposed change would eliminate the multiple output voltage standard that was implemented two and a half decades ago, but is still used in modern PC power supplies.

PC are unable use the outdated standard, however, laying waste to literally billions of kilowatt-hours of energy per year. Introduced in 1981 on the first IBM PC, the multiple voltage standard was required for the PCs of yesteryear, but now poses not only an unnecessary technology but an enormous drain of the nation’s power when considering the billions of PCs in distribution across the world.

It’s like putting a 400-horsepower engine in every car, just because some cars have to tow large trailers every once in a while said Chris Calwell, vice president and director for policy and research at Ecos Consulting. His company has partnered with several nationwide energy producers to instill a similar initiative, called 80 Plus, which offers incentives to power supply manufacturers who achieve 80 percent efficiency in new products. When Ecos began measuing such standards in 2003, none of the companies inspected were close to the 80 percent mark. With increasing energy concerns, however, that number has spiked sharply, with about 70 power supplies on the market that operate at or above the 80 percent milestone.

Such an enormous waste of energy makes for an enormous waste of national tax dollars. Even with only about 2.5 million AC/DC power supplies in use in the United States, the lack of power supply efficiency represents a $3 billion annual drain from the US economy. And with an estimated 6 to 10 billion power supplies in use worldwide, it’s daunting to consider the amount of energy, time and money that’s being wasted due to sheer inefficiency and carelessness.

[via cnet]