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Econonsense: Green is not the color of envy, but lies

Updated on July 13, 2008
Green nonsense is taking over the PC marketing world.
Green nonsense is taking over the PC marketing world.

Green has taken over the world, or at least the marketing whizzes would like you to believe that. It seems that all of the psychodemographic markers which the Madison Avenue gurus utilize to decipher the sacred goat entrail demarcations divining the current whims of the consumer are pointing towards ecoresponsibility. Therefore, logic be damned, every product and service must now be marketed as ecofriendly, whether or not its very existence violates every ecological premise ever conceived.

Some ecofriendly products are indubitably valid. There is no debate that energy saving light bulbs that give off the same lumens as an incandescent 60 watt lamp and only consume 9 watts are definitely cutting down on electrical energy consumption and the related necessary generating capacity. It can also not be argued that Toyota Prius owners have the same carbon footprint as the driver of a Ford F-350 propelled by a V10 Triton gas guzzling engine.

However, in the past few months I've seen advertisements for ecological rifles, speakers, miter saws, cordless drills, wristwatches, paint sprayers, car seats, sewing machines, coffee makers, videocameras, treadmills, intercoms, vacuum cleaners, guitar amplifiers, and dog food. The difference between the new, improved earth-friendly rifle and the older, ecologically destructive rifle is not exactly clear, and most likely resides only between the ears of the young overpaid advertising agency hotshot whizkid who thought this idiocy up.

Intel and (what was once its valiant competition but is now barely a junior league ankle biter) AMD have been fighting pitched battles over the power consumption of their CPU chips. Thermal Design Power (TDP) is the acknowledged standard for measuring the power consumption of a computer processor at maximum load. When AMD saw that it was losing the battle against Intel's efficient Core 2 series of processors, it decided to invent Average CPU Power (ACP), or as various industry wags have dubbed it, "Fake-o-watts". Even AMD was not consistent with its own CPU ACP ratings as no sooner had it issued a white paper demonstrating three TDP families of: 68W, 95W and 120W, they revised the document to increased the values to: 79W, 115W and 137W.

Although power consumption can be a critical issue to administrators running server farms with thousands of processors humming 24 hours a day, the issue of CPU power consumption is effectively insignificant to the average personal computer user. First of all, there are precious few PC users who keep their computers on around the clock, let alone running at maximum load (the handful of ravenous folders excluded). Most PCs spend more than 90% of their operating time at idle, and the difference in power consumption between similar processors from Intel and AMD adds up to a few watts at best. If we analyze the power consumption of a home PC operating in Honolulu (the most expensive place in the nation for electricity) under typical loads and which is shut down at night we find that the difference in electricity cost between a midrange CPU touted to be highly power efficient and one that has the rap of being a power hog adds up to barely fifty cents a month.

It is true that every little bit helps, but CPU purchasing decisions should be made on truly valid and applicable virtues, not ones invented by marketing tricksters trying to capitalize on the tragic and dire issues facing humanity today.


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