Scientists say thin clients reduce carbon footprint and power costs

British business could save £78m in electricity and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 485,000 tons a year by choosing thin clients instead of PCs, according to researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute.

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British business could save £78m in electricity and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 485,000 tons a year by choosing thin clients instead of PCs, according to researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute.

The calculation includes the extra energy cost of the servers needed for thin-client computing, at a rate of 20 users per server, but not the environmental cost of scrapping those PCs, the researchers said.

"Energy consumption when in operation was up to 50 percent lower than for conventional PCs," said Fraunhofer researcher Hartmut Pflaum. "While PCs consume about 85W on average, thin clients including their server get by with 40W to 50W. In view of climate change and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, this is an important factor."

The Fraunhofer team did their research using thin clients from Igel Technology, which is also based in Germany, and their totals assume that 10m desktop PCs in the UK could be replaced by thin clients.

At eight hours use a day, 220 days a year, the researchers estimated that a modern PC costs £15 a year for electricity, versus £7.30 for a set-up with thin clients and servers. More significantly, the electricity saving also represents a reduction in annual CO2 emissions of almost 50kg per desktop.

Energy and carbon use is also reduced in transporting the hardware because thin clients are lighter and smaller than PCs, the researchers said.

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