Thin Clients Save Energy, Spare CO2

Using thin clients instead of conventional PCs would lower energy consumption by 51 percent and reduce CO2 emissions, concludes a recent study by the Fraunhofer Institute. The study, whose results were announced Wednesday by Igel Technology, compared thin clients manufactured by Igel to conventional business PCs.

Thin clients represent “super slimmed down” alternatives to desktop PCs. Accessing information stored remotely on a server, the devices generally have no moving parts and little memory while delivering the essential application capabilities of a PC to their users. Due to the centralized architecture, an array of thin clients uses less power—and is considered by some to be more reliable and easier to manage—than an equal number of conventional PCs.

Thin clients have been promoted for years, but have been slow to catch on. Many thin clients run embedded operating systems, such as Microsoft’s Windows XP Embedded or Windows CE, and Linux. Perhaps with the “green revolution” thin clients may see more respect.

Commenting on the Institute’s report, Fraunhofer researcher Hartmut Pflaum stated, “While PCs consume about 85 watts on average, thin clients including their server and data room cooling get by with only 40 to 50 watts. In view of climate change and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, this is an important factor.”

Based on Fraunhofer’s data (see tables below), Igel suggests—given an estimated 22.9 million business desktop PCs in operation in the U.S.—that thin clients could save U.S. businesses around $354.7 million a year, and could cut CO2 emission by about 2.45 billion pounds.

According to Igel’s strategic director of worldwide marketing, Stephen Yeo, “The financial savings are significant but the impact on cutting CO2 emissions is what’s really impressive. Saving 2.45 billion pounds of CO2 emissions would remove the equivalent impact of 106,521 average U.S. households each year.” Adding to this an estimated typical 25 percent TCO (total cost of ownership) savings of a thin client versus a PC, Yeo says, “there can be no doubt that server-based computing is the economic and eco-friendly way forward.”

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