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PlayStation (Games) Power Hardware

Most Game Console Power Draw Comes From Time Spent Idling 249

Posted by timothy
from the sittin'-on-the-dock-of-the-bay dept.
hypnosec writes "Springer Science and Business Media has discovered that during 2010, almost 70 per cent of the overall power draw of the world's consoles was thanks to idling. This total came to over 10.8 TWh of energy, equating to well over a billion dollars in wasted power. The biggest culprit for the trio of main consoles of this generation was the PlayStation 3, with its first edition having an active power draw of 180 watts and an idling draw of 167. As the report states, the Xbox 360 wasn't much better however, with active/idle draws of 172/162w respectively. Both of those consoles have got far better with their hardware revisions, more than halving the idle power consumption, but the Wii has been ahead of the curve the whole time. Its active/idle power draws were as low as 16/11w. The only real difference with the Nintendo console was whether its WC24 was enabled or not. With it on, standby power jumped from 2w to 9w."
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Most Game Console Power Draw Comes From Time Spent Idling

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:29AM (#39762419)

    What exactly is the purpose of gaming consoles today? These days, they're merely locked-down PCs that are several years out of date, and damn near impossible to upgrade. It's not the games, since many of them target every major console and non-console platform these days. It's not the graphics quality, since PCs offer much better quality imagery. It's not the controllers, because there is a much wider range of options for PCs. It's not their networking abilities, given that consoles were many years behind PCs in this respect.

    While consoles make sense for the businesses who want to lock-in users, they make absolutely no sense for consumers. PCs are a much better option in every way possible.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:48AM (#39762593)

      Except for playing multiplayer games from the comfort of your couch.

    • by nautsch (1186995) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:48AM (#39762595)
      It's the ease of use. Simple as that.
      • by mwvdlee (775178) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:54AM (#39762635) Homepage

        A locked-down hardware and (for the most part) software specification that developers can optimize too. Consoles are older hardware that is much better utilized.

        • by orlanz (882574)

          But this optimization is no longer done. People kind of program for the xbox and keep in mind about porting to the PS3, and some times the Wii. Some even consider the PSP! Meaning your game is the lowest denominator.

          • Two or three platforms is easier to optimize for than 10 or 20 different graphics cards. Game developers still do it for both, though.
          • I've not been paying attention to console development for the past few years, but back when I was the people I talked to said that their company maintained its own middleware layer. They wrote games for it and had a separate team optimising the middleware for each platform. A lot of the differentiation (this was back in the XBox / GameCube days) was done in geometry and texture detail: they'd design the data for the most capable console and just reduce the polygon count and texture resolution for the rest
      • It's also worth noting that consoles are a LOT easier to use, despite all the iGUI innovations in recent years.

    • many of them target every major console and non-console platform these days.

      Many AAA games come out on consoles first. They may or may not come out later on PC and when they do the PC versions that seem like an afterthought (poorly optimised, poor controller configuration options etc). Of course at the time of the console release there is usually no indication as to whether or not a PC version will come out later.

      What exactly is the purpose of gaming consoles today?

      When a game developer targets a console they will generally design their game to run well on that console. So if I buy a console early in it's generation I can be reasonablly confident that new games (with a few exceptions from shitty developers) will continue to run well on that console through it's lifecycle. Reviewers will be using the same hardware specs as players will so if a game plays well on the reviewers system it will play well for users too.

      With PC gaming it's far more of a crapshoot, yes the graphics etc can be better than consoles but if your hardware specs aren't high enough the experience can be a lot worse. Furthermore neither CPU or GPU vendors label their products in a way that makes it easy for the customer to determine whether his CPU/GPU is better or worse than the one a reviewer used.

      Oh and most PC games now have some form of online activation which often includes anti-resale measures (at the very least you don't know if the previous owner has posted the key somewhere online that could result in it being blacklisted). Console games can for the most part still be resold (some console games are starting to make DLC and/or online multiplayer access free for the original owner and chargable for subsequent owners but i've not yet seen a console game where the main single player game can't be resold).

      • by Pubstar (2525396)

        With PC gaming it's far more of a crapshoot, yes the graphics etc can be better than consoles but if your hardware specs aren't high enough the experience can be a lot worse. Furthermore neither CPU or GPU vendors label their products in a way that makes it easy for the customer to determine whether his CPU/GPU is better or worse than the one a reviewer used.

        If you seriously have a problem figuring this one out, you need to not be using PCs anymore. Go get yourself a Mac.

        *braces for -1 Flamebait*

    • there is no "you need more ram", but only a "needs at least a ps2". so you do not need to upgrade too often.

    • by Cinder6 (894572)

      First off, they are cheaper* than an equivalent PC. It's only $200 for a 360 and $300 for a PS3, and they come with a naturally more comfortable** input device. It's easier for most people to hook up a console to a large TV and sit in a comfortable couch. Games require less fiddling and you don't really need to interact with the system OS if you don't want to--and even if you do, it's basically impossible to screw things up. There are also many console games that never make it to PCs--or, if they do, th

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      they're merely locked-down PCs

      You answered your own question. Locked down means less piracy, no choice but to use the official online service and buy games through it, no mods or hacks etc. Almost every company wants to lock you into their revenue stream to bleed you dry, and a locked-down platform is the best way to do that.

    • While consoles make sense for the businesses who want to lock-in users, they make absolutely no sense for consumers. PCs are a much better option in every way possible.

      Turn on console. Put in game. Play.

      They make perfect sense for consumers.
    • Price? They're all a lot cheaper than a gaming grade PC rig and the gaming experience isn't *that* much less for 95% of people.
  • by Albanach (527650) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:32AM (#39762441) Homepage

    What truly shocked me about the PS3 was to find that attached controllers do not appear to charge unless the console is powered on.

    This is an absurd state of affairs and has, apparently, persisted through hardware revisions. The device itself can power on overnight from standby and sync with the PS network/download patches etc, but you need to wake the thing to charge the controller. This encourages the device being left on 24x7 with all the expense and environmental consequences that go along with that.

    • What truly shocked me about the PS3 was to find that attached controllers do not appear to charge unless the console is powered on.

      That shocked you? Were you shocked when your I-Pod didn't charge when it was plugged into a powered off PC? Are you shocked when your car battery drains when the engine is off?

      There's a reason why they sell charging stations for Wii-motes and PS3 controllers. And why they sell wall charging units for mp3 players and tablet PCs. And why you can purchase a battery maintenance devi

      • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:56AM (#39762655)

        I'm not sure about an i-Pod, but my phone can charge when plugged into a powered off PC's USB, because the USB keeps giving power as long as the power supply is in the net.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        There's a reason why they sell charging stations for Wii-motes and PS3 controllers.

        Yes, and the reasons is "more profit".
        Why can't a console be made to work like one of those, to you apparently magical, charging stations?

      • by olsmeister (1488789) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @10:03AM (#39762703)
        I think what surprises him (and me too, frankly) is that when the PS3 if powered 'off', it's not really off, merely in more of a sleep state. There are still active parts of the machine doing things like keeping the little red LED lit on the front, the bluetooth circuitry is active waiting for someone to hit the power button on a controller, etc. There really is no reason that they couldn't keep the USB ports powered up as well. I've often left my PS3 on overnight to charge the controllers, and then forgot to turn it off for several more days afterward.

        I think one of the real culprits here is code, OS, and library bloat that causes boot times on consumer devices to be in the seconds or 10's of seconds from a cold start. Even my TV takes about 5-10 seconds after I hit power before I can actually watch anything. The lazy way to mitigate this is to not ever really power down, but just appear to. There really is no excuse to take this long to boot into what should be a minimal OS from flash memory. This laziness costs consumers cold hard cash, albeit over months and years.
        • Even my TV takes about 5-10 seconds after I hit power before I can actually watch anything.

          As LCD TVs no longer have the warm-up time needed for CRTs, additional delay had to be implemented somehow to make the TV turn on in the same time as a CRT. This allows for a future "instant-on" TV because there are not many improvements left to do to make someone replace their good TV with a new one.

        • by Tukz (664339)

          I've often left my PS3 on overnight to charge the controllers, and then forgot to turn it off for several more days afterward.

          Please enable automatic sleep mode.
          Set it to a few hours, something.

          Let your console power off automatically if not used for a extended period of time, instead of doing exactly what you just described.
          Enormous waste of electricity.

          Also, it's just USB.
          Use any phone charger (most phones has USB outlets these days).

        • Check to see if your TV has an instant-on feature. A lot of them already implement exactly what you described. For an extra, perpetual draw on power, you can have your TV turn on essentially instantly. I thought it was great when I was living in a house with a few guys where I didn't pay a share of the utilities, but it's not worth it to me when I'm the one footing the bill.

      • Were you shocked when your I-Pod didn't charge when it was plugged into a powered off PC?

        No because USB ports on PCs were not intended for charging.

        Are you shocked when your car battery drains when the engine is off?

        No because there are good technical reasons for that. Further the car is designed for the battery to be charged while driving and the battery is large enough that having it run out is rare unless there is a fault with the car.

        However I don't think either of these cases are relavent to the PS3. Lets consider the specific situation of the PS3.

        * The PS3 already has provision for a standby mode where most of the hardware is powered off but some remains

      • by Albanach (527650) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @12:05PM (#39763671) Homepage

        That shocked you? Were you shocked when your I-Pod didn't charge when it was plugged into a powered off PC? Are you shocked when your car battery drains when the engine is off?

        As others have said, it's perfectly possible to deliver a current from the USB ports when the PS3 is asleep. Plenty of laptops can and do manage this.

        Secondly, a principle purpose of the USB ports is charging - unlike those on most computers, since most computers do not come with accessories requiring charging via a USB port. Using your example, my iPod will charge if plugged into a car adapter, it will charge if plugged into a USB wall adapter and it will charge if plugged into my laptop, whether or not it's asleep.

        Thirdly, even when connected to a powered USB port - such as a mains USB adapter or a powered USB hub, the accessories will not charge unless the PS3 is on. It's not just the current, these devices were actually designed to make charging unnecessarily difficult without leaving the PS3 on or paying extra for an unnecessary charging device.

        Yes, design like that is shocking.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Were you shocked when your I-Pod didn't charge when it was plugged into a powered off PC?

        Yes. There is no technical reason why it should not, unless you hammer the wifi constantly. Playing MP3s and keeping the screen lit just doesn't use that much power, and the hardware is already optimized for low power by virtue of being related to the iPhone. Most other MP3 players charge from a normal USB, as do most phones.

        Are you shocked when your car battery drains when the engine is off?

        I leave my car off for four or five weeks at a time at least once a year and it suffers no ill effects. Eventually the battery will drain but I have never heard of a normal car on sale

      • It shocked ME when I got a PS3, because the Xbox 360 can and does charge controllers when it's turned off.

        You have to have the controller plugged in before you turn the console off, but the Xbox will remain in a low-power state to charge the controller, and THEN automatically shut off.

        It also amazes me that the PS3 doesn't have a 'download quietly and then turn off when the download is finished' function. All you can do is set it to turn off after a number of hours idle - which it will do if the download is

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      What truly shocked me about the PS3 was to find that attached controllers do not appear to charge unless the console is powered on.

      This is an absurd state of affairs and has, apparently, persisted through hardware revisions. The device itself can power on overnight from standby and sync with the PS network/download patches etc, but you need to wake the thing to charge the controller. This encourages the device being left on 24x7 with all the expense and environmental consequences that go along with that.

      Agreed. So set new efficiency standards and start fining the shit out of manufacturers who can't or won't comply. It's the only way the product itself is going to change, since electrical consumption has never made it into any marketing propaganda. Clearly there's no other drive towards efficiency from that standpoint.

    • What truly shocked me about the PS3 was to find that attached controllers do not appear to charge unless the console is powered on.

      I was surprised, too, especially after I woke up the next morning after I brought it home and found it had turned itself on to download updates and then never turned itself off. We actually make it a point now to glance at the PS3 every morning before leaving to make sure it's not just sitting there in standby mode of it's volition.

      They have the console set up to wake up on it's own and download patches and such, but having the controllers charge via USB while powered off was too difficult or not an import

    • It's interesting you point this out in this thread. Because if you attach a controller to your 360 to charge it, the 360 goes into a special mode to charge it. In this mode on my original 360, it took about 40W. It would leave the mode and go to true off/standby when the controller was charged.

      I dunno about encouraging the device being left on 24x7. If you owned an original PS3, you'd have noticed it was so damn loud you couldn't really leave it on 24/7 unless you had a separate wing of your house to put it

    • by donaldm (919619)

      What truly shocked me about the PS3 was to find that attached controllers do not appear to charge unless the console is powered on.

      You are joking right? Using the PS3 to actually charge your PS3 controller is IMHO stupid and wasteful of electricity unless you are actually playing a game and then there is the inconvenience of the USB charging cable. The best way of charging your PS3 controller is via the USB cable by plugging it into your PC or laptop (takes about an hour to fully charge) or even a USB mains charging station (some mobile phone USB chargers may not work if they do great). By doing this you can save on your electrical bil

      • by Albanach (527650)

        You are joking right? Using the PS3 to actually charge your PS3 controller is IMHO stupid and wasteful of electricity unless you are actually playing a game and then there is the inconvenience of the USB charging cable.

        For someone who is quick to judge others' reading ability you seem to be having some comprehension difficulties yourself.

        My very point WAS that using your PS3 is a stupid and wasteful way to charge accessories BECAUSE of Sony's inane design decision that the USB ports don't deliver a current

    • Most PVR's have USB ports, I use those to charge my PS3 controllers due to Sony's lack of function.
  • I've always used a power board with a switch for my PC, and when the PC is off I also turn the switch off. So no motherboard or monitor LEDs working.

    Is this a common thing to do or do most people just leave all this stuff on?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slashmydots (2189826)
      I did a study at work to see if we should put PCs to sleep overnight for cost purposes and it turns out even our original Pentium 4 computers only drew 3-5 watts in sleep mode so no, totally not worth it. 24/7/365 of sleep time would = $4.41 in electricity.
      • At work I leave it running all week to avoid reopening everything each morning.

        But at home the cost of rebooting is way smaller so I turn it off, and honestly, all these monitor, speaker, etc... lights get on my nerves, I mean, even the mouse has a light that remains on through USB when the PC is off.

        BTW I know I'm talking about PC's here while the article is about consoles, I hope it's not too off topic.

    • I leave my PC on 24/365.

      ps '24/7/365' is silly; there aren't 365 weeks in a year!

      • I leave my PC on 24/365.

        ps '24/7/365' is silly; there aren't 365 weeks in a year!

        But there are 365 weeks in an average PC's "lifespan"

    • I thought about doing that for my stuff linked to my TV--TV itself, cable box, speakers and PS3. Mainly because of the cable box which draws 25W even in standby.

      Then we got switched to "smart" power meters, which lets us track energy use during which hours, and by far the biggest electricity consumer is the 5 minute hot shower. The hot water tank is electrical, and makes up over 2/3 my normal daily usage, even with all the TV, computer and gaming.

      In the end I didn't bother switching the electronics off when

  • Too bad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:39AM (#39762515)

    we can't do something like this [makeuseof.com] with our gaming consoles, when they are idle.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The PS3 can run Folding@Home if you install the Life with Playstation app:

      http://www.playstation.com/life/

    • That would make them not idle, no?

  • Just for comparison my desktop computer is drawing 71 Watts right now, with the flatscreen monitor drawing an additional 38 Watts. The monitor eventually drops down to using about 1 Watt when it is in the sleep mode. At the moment I have my computer plugged into a Kill-A-Watt meter. I have occasionally had the monitor also plugged into a Kill-A-Watt meter.

    I have an Intel i7 processor and am using Kubuntu Linux on this desktop computer. Of course, it uses more power than that I work it harder.

    • by Rick17JJ (744063)

      When I did the above post, I had not yet noticed where it said that the consoles got better with later revisions. So, it sounds like they probably are not as much different from my desktop computer now. When, I get a chance, I will read one or both of the linked articles to see what they have to say.

      A laptop or notebook computer would probably use even less than my computer. As far as I can tell, my desktop computer does not seem to be set to go into a sleep mode. Only my flatscreen monitor clearly goes int

    • by Tukz (664339)

      Don't compare a gaming console with a desktop computer.
      Compare it with a gaming computer.

      Even mid end graphics cards these days, consume 200w+.

  • The NRDC has an excellent and easy to read study [nrdc.org] on console power demand. Some x-box models average draw more than two fridges. Video consoles have long been mentioned under the EnergyStar specification [energystar.gov], but the game industry has done an excellent jog of foot dragging such that their are zero EnergyStar consoles out there. The console makers are betting that you'll not notice that you are spending more on electricity than games every year. The heart of the problem is the lack of a real sleep mode. Un
  • cable boxes also use a lot of power but why can't the DRV spin down the HDD when it's off? It's not likey they are pushing out stuff to it 24/7 or at the very least some stuff can sit in ram.

  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @11:29AM (#39763359)

    This is a classic example of free market failure. Making the consoles more efficient costs the manufacturers money. There's the cost to add power gating transistors to all the multi-core chips, use more expensive versions of the same chip binned for lower power consumption, and write the firmware to maximize power efficiency.

    All this will create a benefit that the consumers cannot perceive, directly. Almost no consumers own a Kill-a-Watt, and they don't have any options because there are not many competing consoles, there are only 3, and they are not remotely equivalent to each other. (a consumer unhappy with xbox/ps3 power consumption will not get the same gaming experience on the Wii)

  • by xtal (49134) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @01:23PM (#39764357)

    I heat my house with electricity. Power from idle devices offsets the load from heating - two orders of magnitude higher than idle draws in the very cold months. My home rack puts out enough heat to keep my office comfortable all winter, and I power down in summer, as I'm out doing things. No AC here. I've looked at doing things like having a small greenhouse indoors, etc - the base heat I'm paying for is good electricity turned directly into heat.

    Of course, if you have AC, then you pay double - once for the heat generation from waste, and again to remove it.

    Nothing in life is that black and white.

    • by amorsen (7485)

      I heat my house with electricity.

      You really should stop doing that, unless you happen to live in Iceland. In normal climates, it is trivial to get twice as much heat from a heat pump compared to the electricity it uses, and more than 3 times is not unusual. Even Greenland is starting to use heat pumps.

      (Iceland happens to have an approximately infinite amount of cheap hydro power available and a lousy climate for heat pumps. That combination is exceedingly rare.)

      • by xtal (49134)

        I live in a 110 year old house in the middle of a old city. Electric hot water, all costs considered, and much insulation later, is the cheapest way to go. Unlike most I bought an old house, paid for it, fixed it, and that's that.

        FWIW I live in Canada, and Hydro is very cheap (relative to alternatives). The only alternative is diesel oil.

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