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Power Upgrades Hardware

Fujitsu To Show Off "Zero-Watt" PC At CeBIT 222

mobile writes "In August of last year Fujitsu announced new 'zero-watt' displays. This means the screens use absolutely no power when put into standby mode, unlike most other screens that use less than 1 watt, but still require some power. Now Fujitsu has announced they will be showing a zero-watt PC later this year at the CeBIT show. The PC is called the Esprimo Green and marks a first, in that it's able to use no power while in standby mode — but this is a feature that will be required from 2010 for new PCs released across Europe."
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Fujitsu To Show Off "Zero-Watt" PC At CeBIT

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  • Define "Standby" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Facetious ( 710885 )
    I assume "standby" means hibernate, not suspend due to the power required to refresh RAM. Or is Fujitsu introducing something with MRAM?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I assume "standby" means hibernate, not suspend due to the power required to refresh RAM. Or is Fujitsu introducing something with MRAM?

      If it doesn't then there will most likely be a hit to resume standby/hibernate time. Of course some people will never see this 'cause they never turn off their computers.

    • by FST777 ( 913657 )
      It probably just means "off", without any form of sleeping or hibernating.
      • Even off where it uses 0 energy would be quite a step forward. Computers still use some electricity while supposedly off. Getting that down to whatever it takes to keep the clock functioning would be useful.

        And suspend to disk ought to take 0 electricity while suspended as well.

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Summary says DISPLAYS.

    • by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @07:13PM (#26553669) Homepage

      The zero-power use state is activated when the "zero-power" LED turns on.

    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @07:34PM (#26553911)
      This sort of saving it getting to be pretty typical of a lot of "green marketing". Make a big deal out of the very tiny savings and ignore the big stuff. Save the 1W or so, but ignore the fact that the computer as a whole uses a lot of power.

      The problem with just fixing and selling the small stuff is that this can actually be counter-productive. "Green guilt" has a positive purpose: make people feel bad so they do less of that bad thing. The "eco products" counter that: buy our xxx and you don't have to feel bad. This would be OK except that people often then modify their behavior. Someone that feels bad for driving 5 miles with an SUV might feel they're doing the planet good when they drive 100 miles with a Prius.

      Same deal here. I don't feel bad about leaving my computer on any more because the monitor is now using zero Watts.

      • I think I'll drive my SUV 50 miles to buy one of these new monitors! Think of the energy I'll save if I use the new monitor for a thousand years.

        Or, just I could keep the one I have and turn it off when I'm not using it. :)

        I like your new word "greenwashing".
      • If, for example, mandates like this end up requiring use of suspend-to-disk over suspend-to-RAM, increasing the unsuspend time, the likely effect is that more people will simply leave their computers fully powered on for more time, making the overall power usage worse than before.

      • by wish bot ( 265150 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @10:49PM (#26555649)

        I sort of agree with you, but this has a purpose.

        When people put their equipment to sleep, they expect it to be effectively 'off'. The problem has been that most devices draw a TON of power when in standby - this something that certainly needs addressing (and there's no real good reason for it other than sheer engineering laziness).

        Now, worrying about zero-power standby on your 300MW super-sized plasma might be hypocritical, but the EU (and other governments) have established targets for these sorts of things too. I'd have to say that considering every aspect of electronics with regards to efficiency is a good thing.

        • by elvum ( 9344 ) *

          It's not always just engineering laziness. At least for the UK, some digital television manufacturers need to find a compromise between turning everything off when in standby and listening for over-the-air firmware updates, which are typically only delivered in the middle of the night.

      • Your car analogy doesn't really work in this case, more's the pity (nothing like a good car analogy). We're talking about display technology, which relates more towards other display devices like TVs and not so much to the actual computer (although it mentions they're working towards that, too).

        If I'm using a Prius instead of an SUV, why would it encourage me to drive farther? If I need to drive 5 miles then I'm going to drive 5 miles; no need to increase it by a factor of 20.

        It's a step in the right dire

    • Standby requires very little power. Couldn't they just put a battery in the computer that keeps giving power to the computer in standby? By the time the battery wears out, most users will have gotten a new computer, anyway.

    • DDR3 is supposedly nonvolatile, so it would be (theoretically) possible with standby as well. Though this appear to only be the display that does it, so its actually neither.

  • Very nice. (Score:5, Funny)

    by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @06:46PM (#26553295) Journal

    I've been looking for a computer powered by zero-point energy [wikipedia.org] drawn from vacuum fluctuation. [wikipedia.org]

    Maybe I can transplant the power supply into my car and get infinite miles per gallon?

    • a ZPM is to much power for a car put it in a space ship.

      • put it in a space ship

        Those are such a bitch to park at the supermarket... plus MIB will show up wanting to see papers and whatnot.

    • Yes, in fact you can. And then use it to cure the common cold. I have a working prototype if you're willing to send me six hundred dollars. More will get you an even bigger share of the profits when they come rolling in!

  • Standby? (Score:4, Informative)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @06:52PM (#26553381) Homepage Journal

    How would you know whether the device is in standby or turned off? Normally an LED signifies this.
    Perhaps a mechanical indicator? Or, e-ink?

  • ZOMG (Score:5, Funny)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @06:53PM (#26553399) Homepage Journal
  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @06:58PM (#26553475) Journal
    This means the screens use absolutely no power when put into standby mode, unlike most other screens that use less than 1 watt, but still require some power

    I don't get this obsession with "standby" power draw... My computer and display and TV and DVD player already draw zero watts when off, thanks to the magic of the switch on the power strip.

    And for the record, I don't even do this for the power savings - More than once, I've had my "expensive" electronic toys saved from nearby lightning strikes that took out things like alarm clocks and answering machines (No, a power strip won't stop a direct hit, but they do wonders to stop spikes up to a few hundred volts).
    • But I don't get the obsession with eliminating it. I mean reducing makes sense. There are situations where people can't or won't disconnect the power to a device. So let's make things efficient. A good example would be to use switching PSUs in wall warts instead of linear PSUs. They use less energy (in operation as well as standby), generate less heat and are smaller. Good, done. Likewise, a device shouldn't keep more on components than it needs in standby. If all you need is a small IR receiver to look for

      • Actually, you could have a remote control - without even making it wired.


        (Although this has some drawbacks of its own.)

        Either that, or some switch that when it's exposed to a resonant frequency, powers a microcontroller for long enough to bring the TV up, and have the button on the remote emit that sound.

        • But that uses somewhat more energy than just powering a small microcontroller.

          Your going backwards mate. :P

          • The magnets in the remote would use more power in the remote, but less from the wall.

            The resonant frequency... not necessarily. The resonant frequency could actually use less power in the remote as well. Here's how it would work (I'll note that it was actually done as an early remote control, too.)

            Depressing the power button strikes a tuning fork
            Sound waves from the tuning fork causes vibration in a switch of some sort on the TV, powering a microcontroller for long enough to turn another switch on

      • You can't have something like a remote control since you need power to watch for a signal.

        Not really. See: AM radios, RFID tags...

        Question is whether it costs any power to have a transistor there, so that the power from the signal alone could start a chain reaction that wakes up the system.

      • by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @08:59PM (#26554737)

        ---Worrying over a device drawing milliwatts is silly.

        Is it now?

        Have you ever heard of QRP? It's a code for power reduction in terms of ham radio. When we're talking QRP, we're talking about 1w or LESS power to communicate anywhere in the world. In the early spring, we can communicate with Midway (the island), and we're in Indiana. We've done satellite communications on .5w, however that was using a parabolic antenna.

        So yes, 1w is a lot of power.

        • Uh.. How much did your half watt transmitter draw? I've got a HT that goes down to 50 mW in some bands, but it sure as hell draws quite a bit more than that.

          Receivers are pretty sensitive, but digital computers and many other electronic components just aren't nearly as efficient. yet.

          • Do I know exactly the draw? Nope. But I know I was using a lantern battery for xmit and recv for a few hours and it still wasnt dead. It was one of those '70s argonauts.

        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:38AM (#26557267)

          My point is not what can you do with a watt, my point is that a watt is a trivial amount of power compared to what our devices use. The monitor I'm looking at right now while typing this is drawing about 60 watts, and it's an LCD. My air conditioner draws around 3500 watts when active. My car can produce nearly 130,000 watts when run to it's full capacity.

          So suppose you have a device that draws 1 watt idle. Most draw less, but suppose. Ok that means you can run that for 60 hours before equaling just one hour of my monitor usage. You can run it for half a year before equaling just one hour of my AC. The car, well I can't do an accurate comparison since it doesn't run at full power, but I'm betting you can run an idle device for over a year for the same amount of energy as a short trip.

          So, my point is that worrying about that shit is stupid. That isn't where the majority of our energy usage is happening. Saying "Oh we reduced this to zero," sounds nice until you realize that in a single day an AC will use more than that thing will over a lifetime of idle.

          I mean take my monitor as an example. As I said, I measure the power draw of it on to be about 60 watts. When it's idle, as in I've pressed the "soft off" switch, it doesn't read a power draw. My meter has a resolution of 1 watt so I don't know what the draw is. Somewhere less than a watt. We'll call it half a watt for argument's sake. I suspect it's actually less, but whatever.

          Now I've owned the monitor for about a year, and in that time it's been on for 2090 hours (it's a professional monitor, keeps that in it's firmware). So during it's life it has used about 125kWh. Assuming that it is in soft off mode the rest of the time (I actually shut down my UPS) it would have spent about 6,670 hours idle. That would equal a usage of about 3kWh, maybe less.

          So, what's the real thing to solve here in terms of less energy usage? Worrying about making it "zero power" when off (which I can do if I like, either with the monitor's hard off switch of the UPS) or reducing the power used when on by just 5%? Well 5% of 125kWh is 6kWh so over twice the draw as reducing the idle mode. It's also a lot more realistic. An LED backlight would probably get that 5%, maybe more.

          That's what I mean. It is worrying about shit that just doesn't matter much. Even if you are just worried about the electronics, the power draw is in their on mode. An hour of on will equal days of idle. However all that pales in comparison to many other devices.

          So sure, I see the point in saying "Keep your soft off draw as low as practical." Seems like modern devices do that already. However this "It must be zero watts," is stupid. I reiterate: 1 watt is NOT a lot of energy.

      • by Splab ( 574204 )

        No, everything counts.

        When you got 380 million (guesstimated EU population) people drawing 100 mW per device on standby (lets say on average we got 3 devices, 1 tv, 1 monitor and 1 computer - yes there are people who got neither, there are people who got multiple..) that's a 100 MW.

        Always remember aggregate costs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MechaBlue ( 1068636 )

      Turning a computer on can take several minutes of repetitive, non-productive work. You need to boot the system, log in, open applications, open documents, and find you place in the documents. This can take several minutes.

      Standby mode takes care of this hassle at the cost of a few Watts of power. Now they have a way to get the benefits without using those few Watts of power.

      "...uphill both ways..."

      • There was always a way: hibernate. Same power use as being off. It's slower to come out of than standby, but still less than 10 seconds on my computer. I always leave my work computer hibernated for the reasons you specify above.
    • by bnenning ( 58349 )

      My computer and display and TV and DVD player already draw zero watts when off, thanks to the magic of the switch on the power strip.

      TV and DVD sure, but computers are annoying to turn on and off because you (or at least I) often have substantial state to restore: open apps and files, terminal windows, etc. It's perfectly reasonable to normally use sleep or hibernate and only shut down for special circumstances.

    • I don't get this obsession with "standby" power draw... My computer and display and TV and DVD player already draw zero watts when off, thanks to the magic of the switch on the power strip.

      Its not so easy for all of us. My Dell 24" monitor frequently "crashes" if I use the powerstrip to turn it off. It still mostly works (usually it displays the video signal) but all of the user interface things (brightness control, switching inputs, power button, etc) are dead.

  • Let's get real (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @07:17PM (#26553733)

    Let's get real. It can't be ZERO watts and still be listening to the net, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Maybe less than one watt with custom CMOS net interfaces. But not ZERO.

  • Yep, a shell game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @07:21PM (#26553771) Journal

    Even though the Esprimo Green uses no power in standby mode Fujitsu say it can still be managed with LAN, Bluetooth, and UMTS. A demonstration of which will surely be given during CeBIT.

    To do that

    1) They've managed to break the laws of physics or
    2) They're lying or
    3) They're storing power

    And of course, if it's 3, that stored power has to be replenished when the computer is on, causing slightly higher draw then. It's certainly possible that the efficiency of doing that is greater than the efficiency of drawing a very small current from the line. But calling it "zero power" is just marketing. Truly "using zero power" would mean that any internal state of charge wouldn't be depleted either.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      4) They are drawing power out of band. E.g a net card running on the power of the packets, or the standby circuit activating from the power supplied by the VGA connector...

      • Re:Yep, a shell game (Score:5, Interesting)

        by afidel ( 530433 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @07:53PM (#26554129)
        Interesting idea, combine PoE and WoL. You send the magic packet, the switchport intercepts it and provides power to that port then the NIC uses the PoE power to switch a relay in the PSU. Would be very efficient and still allow the computers to be managed for patching. It wouldn't add much in the consumer space but I see it as a future direction for large enterprise deployments. Oh and if anyone tries to patent it, prior art =)
    • or...

      4) Gerbils. Awesome backup power source when combined with a small generator, just don't forget to feed them as the extended warranty won't cover their expiration.

      No, seriously, they've probably got a supercap or something in there and have optimized the wake-up circuit to draw absolutely next to squat. Much better than running a power supply continuously at a low power draw, where they're typically very inefficient. Much better to draw a minute amount of load on top of the operating load and store

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      A small battery to supply the network hardware waiting for a wake on LAN signal could probably do the job. Not actually zero power, but probably not much to recharge later either. Power over ethernet also works but requires other hardware.
  • Anybody heard of "suspend to disk"? If you're running Linux on your laptop/notebook/mobile-pc then just do this : "sudo echo -n 'disk' > /sys/power/state " or, use your GUI of choice.

    Other than the not-so-novel "bistable" ( "zero power" ala e-ink ) display, what's the big deal? And why the fuss about zero standby current when in S3 sleep ( standby ) mode it's measured in microamps?

    • just do this : "sudo echo -n 'disk' > /sys/power/state "

      Actually, that won't work. The > is interpreted by the shell, which means the "echo" command will run as root, but the shell redirection will run as the user -- the exact opposite of what you want.

      I've taken to doing things like this:

      echo -n disk | sudo tee /sys/power/state

      The extra output can be suppressed, if you really care, with a >/dev/null at the end.

      • by jdb2 ( 800046 ) *

        just do this : "sudo echo -n 'disk' > /sys/power/state "

        Actually, that won't work. The > is interpreted by the shell, which means the "echo" command will run as root, but the shell redirection will run as the user -- the exact opposite of what you want.

        I've taken to doing things like this:

        echo -n disk | sudo tee /sys/power/state

        The extra output can be suppressed, if you really care, with a >/dev/null at the end.

        Heh. Oops. Having done this many times, I should have remembered ( one of ) the correct command sequences -- seems my brain is running slow again. ;)

        For the record, I usually use sudo sh -c 'echo -n disk > /sys/power/state' -- for some reason I forgot to put in the 'sh -c'. Anyway


    • While I'm all for staying generally logged-in as a normal unprivileged user (okay, schmuck), when there's admin work to be done it's time to just su to root or switch to a different terminal and log in as "He who shalt be obeyed".

      One "su root -" (plus password) is shorter than a lot of "sudo" commands.

  • Is this some legalism, as in nutrition labeling, in which rounding is allowed? Can they round the power consumption to the nearest watt, and call anything drawing less than 0.5 watts "zero watts?"

    I realize that geek.com does say "absolutely no power," but the farthest I can trace that statement is to pcworld [pcworld.com], not to Siemens.

  • by diablovision ( 83618 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @07:35PM (#26553935)

    1. Invent zero-watt sleep mode for PC.
    2. Patent relevant technology.
    3. Lobby the Euros for legislation requiring feature.
    4. Profit!

    (forget about valid strategy of turning off PC--stupid consumers can't be bothered)

  • by TheRing ( 744219 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @08:10PM (#26554313)
    it looks from here http://sp.fujitsu-siemens.com/dmsp/docs/ds_esprimo_e.pdf [fujitsu-siemens.com] like its only the screen that draws 0 watts when ts in standby - looks like the power for the screen is routed through the pc box and so they just make the pc turn off the power to the screen when the pc is in standby. It is a bit hard to tell, as the first part of it seems to be written in engrish
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by nmoore ( 22729 )

      You're right. According to that document (p. 4, about halfway down), the machine draws 1.6 to 2.7 W (depending on model) in standby; 1.5 to 2.1 W in soft-off with wake-on-LAN enabled; and no power in soft-off with wake-on-LAN disabled ("wake up power button only"). So the article is simply wrong when it says the computer is "able to use no power while in standby mode", unless they're redefining "standby" to mean S5 rather than S3.

      It may simply be that, when WOL is disabled, shutting down the machine pu

  • Any insulator, no matter how high the resistance, will leak *some* energy. The question is how much - zero is impossible, so how much above zero is it?

    • Yes and twirling your fingers in the air causes gravitational effects that shift the orbits of every object in the universe and if you look at any analog signal with enough magnification it turns out just to be a digital signal masquerading as an analog signal and your body contains molecules, or in the very least individual atoms, that were once part of dinosaurs and monkey seamen.

      Stop being a physicist! Any fool Engineer can tell you that if its too small to be measured than it might as well no be ther

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."