David Tebbutt, SmallBizPod

Tomorrow sees the start of the huge CeBIT ICT exibition in Germany where 4,300 companies from around the world are expected to strut their stuff. One of them, Fujitsu-Siemens, always likes to announce something new at these events.

This year it’s the turn of the zero-watt PC. Like all machines, it consumes no energy when in hibernate or off mode but, unlike other machines, it can still be woken up automatically for software downloads and the like. This is of most interest to organisations that make software upgrades across the network. However, the machines do have other features which help to reduce energy costs, such as a highly efficient power supply which directs up to 89 percent of electricity into useful work, and displays which alter their brightness according to the ambient light.

Next year, the European Union is putting stringent controls on energy use in what it calls standby mode – a maximum of one watt and, three years later, will drop this to 0.5 watts. With the introduction of the new PCs, Fujitsu Siemens is well ahead of the game. It is also in the process of patenting the technology which, if other manufacturers can’t figure out how to do it, could prove good for the company’s licence revenues. Or, if it were to licence the design freely (in the interests of a greener planet) and with much fanfare, Fujitsu-Siemens could pick up some good PR karma. (That’s my suggestion by the way, not something the company has even hinted at.)

Greenpeace is a good place to look for comparisons between the various manufacturers. And I understand that, from June, it will be looking at the capabilities of vendors to help customers make environmental savings through the application of IT. This would have proved a challenge for Fujitsu-Siemens, being a hardware company but, at around the same time, it becomes fully integrated with Fujitsu which has a lot of capability in this area, albeit primarily for the Japanese market. The transition to a global offering won’t be easy but, over time and with the help of the ex-Fujitsu-Siemens team, we can expect Fujitsu to make a reasonable showing in the Greenpeace guide.

While vendors would love us to change IT equipment just because new products are greener and can save us a few tens to low hundreds of pounds per year in energy costs, this is absolutely not a reason to change. Nor would they really expect you to. It’s nearly always better to work equipment until it has to be changed – after four years perhaps. But then, if price, quality and performance are equal, but running costs are lower, the purchase of a greener PC does make a lot of sense.

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