According to carbonfootprint.com, a PC running for an hour generates 40-80 grams of CO2, while it consumes about 60-90 % of normal workload power even when idle. When working on a PC or a laptop, we may be distracted and engage in other activities like talking on the phone, or completing other tasks, which means the computer remains idle for long hours, hence wasting energy. It’s also surprising to know that even power-saving modes like ‘Sleep’ or ‘Standby’ can consume as much as 120 Watts of power.
This is our fourth day of the cloud computing week on Tech2, and we'd like to discuss how the cloud contributes to saving the environment. Now, at some level, we all feel the need to reduce our carbon footprint and do our bit to help the planet. You may wonder what cloud computing has to do with green computing. After all cloud computing at the end of the day requires servers to store data and when we say cloud, it actually involves external servers that hold data. Also, we hear about how software giants like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others build huge data centers to meet the growing demands of the ever-increasing number of Internet users. So don’t these huge data centers, that require massive amounts of electricity, increase the carbon footprint?
In comparison to all of this, portable computing devices consume much less energy because they do not need continuous power supply. They just need to be charged not more than once in a day depending on usage. It’s a fact that today, most people don’t really need a high end PC as their usage is limited to browsing, email, social networking, banking, watching videos, listening to music etc. And this can be easily achieved on a smartphone or on any of the portable devices that can be used for cloud computing.
What goes without saying is that, the trend of mobile computing is here to stay. According to a Gartner report, by 2013, mobile phones could easily surpass PCs in a way where most people would use the Internet on the go. Gartner's statistics show, that the total number of PCs will reach 1.78 billion in three years, while the number of smartphones and number of web-enabled phones will shoot past 1.82 billion units and continue to rise. This will force more websites to be optimized for usage on smartphones and other portables, while most of the popular websites are optimized.
Looking at this trend, it’s very tempting to assume that, with an increase in the number of ultra-portable computing devices, there could be a drastic decline in the demand for standard desktop PC’s. Of course the high-end ones would always stay, for very good reasons. It could also mean a drastic rise in the number of data centers, which may be a cause of concern. However, in reality, the manufacturers of data centers are actively taking initiatives to minimize the impact on the environment. Apart from this, as a result of the growing green consciousness, the leading players in the IT industry are taking efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and are also addressing the issue of e-waste. Looking at all this, we’d say that cloud computing, especially on portable devices, be it smartphones, netbooks, ultra-low-powered laptops, could prove to be a very good way of going green. What’s your take on that?