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First "Carbon-Free" CPU Fights Global Warming 221

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the green-costs-green dept.
An anonymous reader writes "VIA is doing its bit to fight Global Warming by introducing the 'world's first carbon-free' desktop PC processor. The RoHS-compliant C7-D consumes 20W at 1.8GHz, and is accompanied by a 'Clean Computing Initiative' that aims to offset the chip's environmental cost. According to a LinuxDevices report, VIA has pledged that atmospheric carbon released during generation of the power needed to run the chip throughout its expected life-cycle will be offset by regional conservation, reforestation, and energy programs initiated or contributed to by VIA."
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First "Carbon-Free" CPU Fights Global Warming

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  • Very interesting (Score:3, Informative)

    by mendaliv (898932) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:06AM (#16096283)
    I was wondering how long it would take for another CPU company to make the argument that their CPU is better for reasons other than speed.

    I know that AMD has been making the power saving argument for awhile (I saw ads in downtown Chicago at busstops in early July).

    Here's info from the article about AMD's CPUs in comparison...
    "AMD, meanwhile, is currently shipping "energy efficient" desktop chip models that typically draw 65 Watts, instead of 85 Watts. Additionally, the company offers "energy efficient, small form factor" models rated at 35 Watts, although only the single-core Sempron model in this category appears to be shipping -- the long-awaited, 35 Watt, dual-core Athlon64 X2 3800+ model is expected to ship to PC-makers in time to go into holiday-season PCs"

    • Transmeta's [transmeta.com] original claim to fame was low power consumption. Sadly they haven't done that well in the market.

      Sun is currently making big claims for its new multicore servers, dubbing it CoolThreads [sun.com] technology. Their blurb is 5x the performance for 1/5 the power and 1/4 the space.
    • by monkeydo (173558)
      All of my computers are carbon free. Nuclear power. The hippies only have themselves to blame for carbon belching power plants.
  • Green Paypack (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:09AM (#16096310) Homepage
    If I understand sustainability targets correctly, the total environmental payback period for chips is supposed to include compensating for the power/etc. used in manufacture, not just in operation. This is a great step, though; let's hope more industries take it and start looking at the next one.
  • only carbon? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spamchang (302052) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:14AM (#16096362) Journal
    i think they're forgetting the heavy metals cost of gold, the industrial waste cost of the wafer fab process, the energy it takes to run a whole semiconductor assembly operation, and the huge environmental 'fixed cost' of constructing the buildings that make these processors. i wonder if there are plans to distribute these environmental costs and offset them as well.

    but it is a start, and more companies could adopt the same attitude.
    • by Ed Avis (5917)
      I think most of those environmental costs are already factored into what you pay, after all, gold costs money, companies pay to have their industrial waste disposed of safely, electricity isn't free, and you must pay to buy land and building materials. There are surely externalities that aren't accounted for, but they're pretty small in relation to the things that already require large wads of cash.
  • Y'know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:16AM (#16096382) Journal
    I'm certainly concerned about this stuff. (I'm reading this after returning from walking around the floor turning off lights in empty conference rooms.) But this "carbon-neutral" business, where those who can afford it can consume as much as they desire as long as they pay for it with offsets based on some extremely nebulous calculation, and those who can't have to do without -- reminds me of papal indulgences more than anything else. You can be a good person by sacrificing, or you can be a good person by giving money to a sanctioned recipient.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amRadioHed (463061)
      So given the choice between:
      a) A computer that isn't contributing to global warming
      b) A computer that is contributing to global warming
      c) No computer

      You would take choices B or C?
      • by shawnce (146129)
        So realizing that A is just a bunch of BS and the same as B... would you choose C?
      • by Otter (3800)
        1) You're asserting a) as though it's a fact. Global warming is hardly well-enough understood that a computer can be clearly balanced out by some number of trees on the other side of the world.

        2) But let's say it could be done. If we're telling people who can't afford "carbon-neutral" that they have to do without or the world will come to an end, don't you see something creepy about eco-celebrities bragging about how they're spending extra to break even on their private jets? On the CPU level it's harmless,
    • Basically because of the hysteria surrounding CO2 emissions these days, it's a convenient advertising point to the public. You claim to be "carbon neutral" and it makes people feel good. For that matter I'm going to bet that it isn't even the kind of thing that will be checked on all that well. You are very correct in the indulgence angle as most likely what will happen is the company in question will throw some money at an environmental group that claims to be doing whatever carbon offsetting thing they ar
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:22AM (#16096390)
    I'm still waiting for chips made out of diamond semiconductor. It'll be hard to label them "carbon free" when they're made from the stuff.
  • by Bryansix (761547) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:23AM (#16096392) Homepage
    but what are they doing to counteract all the hot air they keep expelling?
  • Woo, I feel so smug! (Score:4, Informative)

    by default luser (529332) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @12:00PM (#16096524) Journal
    It's sad how few people realize their "efficient" Via CPU is not so efficient?

    Clock-for-clock, the optimized WinChip core (yes, even the C7 uses the very same core) can only process one integer and one floating-point instruction in parallel. This makes it 2-3x slower per-clock than modern CPUs. So, while you're still waiting on your Via C7 to crunch those numbers (at 20w), a Core2 Duo or A64 X2 system can do it in 1/4-1/6 the time (at 35w), and clock down to low-power state (3-5w).

    So, I hope you feel good about how much carbon Via saves building the chip, because not only does it uses more power than competing processors to do the same amount of work, it takes longer too :D

    Via's day in the sun is over. They were faced with the poor performance of the Winchip core, and instead of redesigning it, they touted the low power (which is true) and efficiency (which is not true). Intel and AMD responded with innovations like real-time voltage and frequency adjustment, and all of a sudden Via is scrambling just to try and keep up.
    • by MartinB (51897)

      Clock-for-clock, the optimized WinChip core (yes, even the C7 uses the very same core) can only process one integer and one floating-point instruction in parallel. This makes it 2-3x slower per-clock than modern CPUs. So, while you're still waiting on your Via C7 to crunch those numbers (at 20w), a Core2 Duo or A64 X2 system can do it in 1/4-1/6 the time (at 35w), and clock down to low-power state (3-5w).

      So do real-world comparison tests. Run similar tasks over a period of time on machines built on the

      • do real-world comparison tests. Run similar tasks over a period of time on machines built on the 2 architectures and compare the actual power demand.

        Two reasons I can't:

        1. I don't own a C7 system.

        2. Regardless of how thoroughly I set up the test, there would be constant naysayers, and people with other ideas of how to erform the test. In other words, it wouldn't solve anything. Remember how it took almost a year for the computing community to realize just how much reduce the power consumption of the A64 9
    • by pod (1103)
      One of the concerns, which you don't, er, concern yourself with, is the environmental cost of manufacture.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      It depends entirely what you want to do with it. Not every application requires serious floating point operations and a lot of machines have a lot of idle time. There are form factor requirements too - I have a fanless 800MHz VIA system with a 60GB drive that takes up less space than an internal CDROM drive that I can plug into my TV to watch mpeg4 videos. A lot of other systems have the 170mm x 170mm motherboard size form factor. There are other CPUs in this league, like the XScale and the Geode, but c
    • So, while you're still waiting on your Via C7 to crunch those numbers (at 20w), a Core2 Duo or A64 X2 system can do it in 1/4-1/6 the time (at 35w), and clock down to low-power state (3-5w).

      That's funny. I have a Via C3 box and an Athlon64 X2 box right here. One uses 30W when idle; the other, 75W. Care to guess which? (Hint: the systems and the numbers are given in the same order.)

      • by evilviper (135110)
        I have a Via C3 box and an Athlon64 X2 box right here. One uses 30W when idle; the other, 75W.

        That surely has a lot to do with having a good power supply in the VIA, fewer hard drives, a lower-power graphics card, etc. Either that, or your Athlon64 has CnQ disabled for reasons I can't imagine.
        • by achurch (201270)
          By my measurements, the video card (a GeForce 6600) takes 15W when idle (I can't test the video on the C3 system because the video chip is built in). I do have one more hard drive on the Athlon, but it's a 2.5" drive like the others in both systems, and shouldn't take more than 5W even when active. I'd accept that the motherboard and associated hardware takes a fair amount of power to run, but since it's necessary in order to make use of the CPU I think it's fair to count that as part of the CPU's power u
          • by evilviper (135110)

            As for CnQ, I haven't been able to measure any difference in idle power usage whether it's on or off.

            Well that's a very clear sign you've got a serious problem with CnQ. The difference should be MAJOR.

            I'd suggest starting off by removing all but one stick of RAM, and any nonessential accessories (old problems I would expect to be fixed by now). Looking for BIOS updates and errata on the manufacturer's website can't hurt either.

            You might also look here:
            http://www.silentpcreview.com/article172-page1.htm l [silentpcreview.com]
            an

    • by evilviper (135110)

      This makes it 2-3x slower per-clock than modern CPUs.

      Absolutely right. I've been saying for quite a long time now, that was exactly my experience. C3s perform perhaps a hair less than half as fast as similarly-clocked AMD/Intel processors.

      I replaced a 750MHz Thunderbird system with a Via C3 800MHz system (actually swapped the hard drive), and the performance dropped through the floor. I added RAM, external video card, etc., all in a futile attempt to get it up to speed. Shortly after that, I returned, b

  • by zymano (581466) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @12:01PM (#16096526)
    The parallel processor : Also known as a graphic cards ,stream or vector processor.

    You will need to use a language that fits the architecture.

    They are way more efficient that general processors.
  • Myself I power my whole setup off a giant water wheel under my sink faucet. Sure I use 5000 gal of water a day but the energy savings to the environment is worth it.
    • by dagnabit (89294)
      5000 gallons of water is nothing. I power my office with a generator that runs on bald eagle heads and Faberge eggs.
  • by Trespass (225077) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @12:14PM (#16096632) Homepage
    The fact that next to noone will use these chips.
  • by PingXao (153057) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @12:54PM (#16097051)
    Last year everyone blamed the incredible number of hurricanes on global warming. "Something must be done!" they demanded. Climatologists said we were entering a period of increased hurricane activity that might last a decade or more. The clamor grew to DO SOMETHING about global warming.

    Well somebody seems to have taken care of the problem. After all, the number of hurricanes is way down this year, isn't it?

    It makes me wonder. Why does anecdotal evidence in support of global warming gloom and doom predictions played up so much, but when that evidence fails to emerge the following year nobody wants to talk about it? At the very least it makes the "killer hurricanes every year" prediction by global warming enthusiasts absolutely BS.

    I think global warming deserves serious attention. I am in favor of the Kyoto accord. Having said that I fear that for every wingnut who values profit over human life there is an equally deranged nut on the other side of the political spectrum who spouts nonsense because, out of ignorance, they don't know any better.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      It's simple - global warming was accepted everywhere apart from by US Republicans who opposed it becuase a leading Democrat talked about it a lot. After one big hurricane a few people who originally opposed the idea stirred up a lot of hype. Now rational people who beleived the line they were fed before are questioning the hype and are tying it to the entire global warming debate that is really scientists vs creationists these days. The lazy end of the nuclear industry has weighed in and see global warmi
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Last year everyone blamed the incredible number of hurricanes on global warming.

      By "everyone" you mean "nobody" right?

      After Katrina, I'd turn on my TV, and every 15 minutes, the newspeople would be saying "The number of hurricanes has nothing to do with global warming, it's a standard 15-year cycle." I heard that so many times I got sick of hearing it. I heard it from news people, climatologists, meterologists, NOAA, etc.

      I get the feeling the people spouting the blatantly obviously bullshit idea that the

  • by pacc (163090) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @01:20PM (#16097297) Homepage
    Via must have looked at ISO14001 and found that they had no control over
    chemical use, water pollution and what their subsidiaries in china were up to.
    But since you can buy certificates to clean their otherwize uncontrolled electrical
    supply they decided that if they could buy a green corporate image for by getting
    certificates a small fractional percentage of their production.

    This smells like Chiquita's banana stickers, nowhere close being accepted by
    any real certification system, but bragged about in commercials everywhere.
    Chiquita - Going Green or Greenwashing Corporate Crime? [organicconsumers.org].

    Everyone can make a difference by conserving power, but not by buying more stuff.

  • Is it good at fighting something that doesn't exist, or

    Are they advertising it won't run OS X?
  • by MarsDude (74832)


    You mean... like most people don't need a car as big as an SUV ? Besides for compensating some physical shortcomings...
  • There were commercials between two race cars, one using the SNES and one using a Sega system (with some crap similar to the "emotion Engine" sounds really good but really didn't do much different)

    Anyways I'm thinking it's the same thing here. You have two F1 cars, Ferrari with the AMD/Intel logo and the Renault with the VIA logo. The light goes green, Ferrari flies down the road at close to double the speed, While the Renault is in persuit but the entire time you hear a speaker from the car "We're saving
  • Ri-ight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xihr (556141) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @04:17PM (#16098769) Homepage
    Because if you think global warming is a serious danger, then making your CPU more "green-friendly" will make one whit of difference, right?
  • so the PC ends up being a mass murderer.
  • Ofsetting the carbon pollution during the operating phase of a product's lifecycle is a great start. Especially because it will get us talking about the real cost of the rest of the cycle, Like the carbon pollution from the energy consumed and waste produced by manufacturing and delivering the product. And then maybe even some in "discarding" the product.
  • by tetrahedrassface (675645) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @10:12PM (#16101075) Journal
    Well this is timely for me. Too bad I didn't get to this article when it first posted. But, I recently investigated the Chicago Carbon Exchange for a number of reasons. First of all as a landowner with close to 500 acres of planted pines in plantation form, I wanted to find out what criteria some of these Carbon Offset schemes are founded on.

    A quick check of several carbon neutral sites, where they propose to offset your carbon output for a fee dependent on how much driving you do etc..., left me feeling as if it were a scam of some sort. They offer no real assurance that your money is being placed into long term land/biomass projects. IE, the data is not publicaly verifiable. Its just their word. "pay us 88 dollars and you are Carbon Neutral!!" The sites/entities proclaming carbon offsets should be required to have verifable data to those that join.

    I saw no evidence of that, and it is needed.

    So some digging was in order. A quick call to the Chicago Carbon Exchange, and subsequent dialog with a nice enough bloke in charge of the offsets regarding the siging up of our ranch up in carbon offsets struck me as odd. The exchange currently favors pine plantations with poplars, vs native hardwoods. Native hardwoods live longer and are a a climax species for my area (East Tennessee).

    The fellow said that our pine planataion could qualify for listing with the carbon exchange, but they really want actively managed plantations vs. unmanaged tracts of woodlands (even if they are recoverving from clear cutting).. I tend to disagree on the track of these offset schemes, because even the Carbon Exchange wants the timber to be harvested.

    The whole process is just getting started I will admit, but it needs some serious thinking through on their part. The trees when mature are harvested. Which emits C02, and then proccessed, and then that carbon slowly degrades back into the atmosphere.

    It really doesn't make sense. They should really be trying harder for longer term preservation with native species into climax ecosystems, with selective logging.

    Now, about the late comment, I would have posted earlier but I have been running a business all day, and came home to plant yet another acre of white pines for a seperate christmas tree thing we are trying at the homestead...(yep /me = hippie, geek, rancher, musciaion type)

    So please folks treat it as more than just feel good, pass the buck public image/advertising.

    And demand verification from the offset folks, don't just take thier word on it.

    Peace out, D

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