March 8th, 2008
Regular readers know that I have often written about energy conservation, alternative energy and innovative ways that people are working to make all that we do more energy efficient. I recently wrote here about how a simple keycard technology employed around the world could save the U.S. hotel industry money and conserve a great deal of energy. The most recent column was about how a Brazilian company has been working with Intel, a U.S. technology giant to find ways to reduce and even eliminate heat from laptops.
There are two themes I would like to explore in this column. The first is how, just by trying to rethink our existing use of energy, we can find ways to immediately lower energy usage. Lowering energy usage today, when the majority of energy in the world comes directly or indirectly from fossil fuels, is a direct tactic in the effort to slow global warming. The second is how companies that are industrial age or second wave companies are, through innovation, reinventing what they do to better help address the energy crisis and global warming. This is one of the developing themes of the Shift Age, the linkage of entities that might not initially be thought of as complimentary or compatible.
I wrote here some 18 months ago about how Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched two initiatives: one that could save some 40 billion kilowatt hours within three years and the other that could cut 1% of annual U.S. energy usage. The first …
March 3rd, 2008
Technology has been the defining force of the Information Age. Technology has given us an appreciation for speed, global communications, connectivity, miniaturization and of course computing power. We embrace new generations of computers, cell phones and digital content players. Many of these innovations, as they increase in power, generate heat. As they decrease in size there is often a proportionate increase in generated heat.
Decades ago, the large main frame computers were housed in large refrigerated rooms. Today server farms reside in similar cooled environments. Heat can cause computing and networking equipment to malfunction, slow down operating speed and in extreme cases to simply fry. Any of us who have actually put our laptops on our laps when working know how fast they can heat up. Desktop PCs have more powerful fans built in to keep them cooler and therefore operating closer to the maximum speed of the installed processor chip. We are, however living in a world of increasing mobility where the laptop is fast replacing the desk top. This means that often the laptops we use are not operating at peak efficiency due to generated heat.
This is not something to which I had given much thought as I had accepted this as one of the accepted limitations of mobile computing. Laptops provide mobility but must sometimes sacrifice performance due to heat generation because of the demands for compact computing. Last week however I was given much to think about. As mentioned in my prior column I had traveled to …