Photo by canned muffins via Flickr CC
Just how important is turning off computers at the end of the day in an office building? Very, if a company wants to save big bucks on electricity bills. According to UC San Diego researchers, 50-80% of a modern building's electricity use goes to IT equipment, particularly desktop computers. A report last year showed that not shutting down PCs equated to $2.8 billion in wasted electricity. Still, many offices don't encourage their employees to hit shut-down on their PCs for a variety of reasons, including updating software while everyone is out or being able to keep the computer attached to the network so information on the machine can be accessed at any time. However, Microsoft's new Sleep Proxy system claims it can help cut energy consumption by 60-80%, without getting in the way of office systems. PC World reports that the new sleep proxy system can maintain a PC's network presence even when it is turned off or put into standby mode. While testing out the system in over 50 active users in a reserch facility in Redmond, Washington, the energy savings proved to be substantial, with computers able to stay in sleep mode more than 50% of the time. So rather than having to be "woken up" each time the computer needs to be accessed for network tasks, it can stay asleep and save energy.
Microsoft's paper entitled "Sleepless In Seattle No Longer" states, "The main cause of reduced power savings in our enterprise network was due to the IT setup. We find that while users do access their machines remotely, remote accesses by IT applications are the primary cause of both machines being woken (fitful sleep) and being kept awake (insomnia)... Fortunately, it appears there is significant room for improving the compatibility of IT setup and effective sleep."
Microsoft points out, "Enterprise desktop computers consume an estimated 65TWh/year of energy. A typical desktop with a 17 inch LCD consumes over 100W when powered on. A sleeping computer consumes only 2-3W." So, the more sleep the better for computers.
Sleep proxy systems like this one being developed by Microsoft can be a huge boon for businesses both in lightening their environmental footprint and trimming how much they spend on electricity. For big companies, that can mean millions.
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