Energy guidelines powered up

Energy Star program

Intel Corp. unveiled power management guidelines that can reduce PC energy costs by 70 percent a year and were immediately endorsed by the federal government's Energy Star program during a Nov. 12 roundtable at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas.

Energy Star is a voluntary energy efficiency program managed by the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. Its goal is to have product designers in the information technology, consumer electronic and household appliance industries build power management into their inventions, said Andrew Fanara, manager of Energy Star product development for the EPA.

At Comdex, Dell Computer Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. demonstrated Intel Pentium 4 processor-based PCs that support Intel's 2002 Instantly Available PC (IAPC) guidelines.

Stephen Walley, the manager for always-connected computing in Intel's corporate technology group, said Energy Star guidelines call for PCs to use 15 watts or less in standby mode, but IAPC promises 5 watts or less (the same as a VCR in non-operation), while ensuring a PC "wakes up" in about five seconds.

PCs in active mode consume about 80 watts of power, and if every computer in the nation used the IAPC guidelines, the savings would amount to about $2.5 billion per year, Fanara said.

IAPC-enabled machines can be set to enter standby mode after a certain length of inactivity. Also, the power button can be set so that instead of turning off, a PC enters standby, saving a significant amount of power, said Jerry Kolinski, a systems architect in Intel's platform architecture lab.

Fanara said marketing the Energy Star program to government agencies has been more difficult than promoting it to the private sector because the power management switch is often turned off by public-sector users and is often treated as an afterthought. However, he said procurement officials are "doing a good job" of buying approved products, but they really need the support of their IT staffs.

"We really need the IT folks to get behind this," Fanara said. "That's the key, I think, because they're [specifying] the products and setting them up. We want them to know what IAPC can do for them."

To aid in the delivery of that message, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced a national brand awareness campaign for Energy Star last week that will include advertisements on television, radio, in print and on the Internet.

"I commend Intel's outstanding commitment to protecting the environment by not only developing their own low-impact technologies, but also engaging PC manufacturers and software developers in this endeavor," Whitman said in a release.

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