No, your gear isn’t as green as they want you to believe


Hardware energy efficiency is one of the most widely used marketing gimmicks in the age of climate change obsession. Everyone talks about how their graphics cards, processors, and even memory are designed for a new era in which saving energy to reduce global warming is the most important thing. However, all talk is written in fine print and is nothing more than marketing maneuvers to take advantage of fashion trends.

Your hardware isn’t as green as you think

The yield per watt is a doubly deceived tariff and therefore doubly wrong. The first is in the denominator of the equation. Since watts are the result of two variables: component clock speed and component voltage. Since it fluctuates not linearly, but rather exponentially, we find that the result is not a constant. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that such a product is a certain number of times or a percentage more effective than another 100% of the time.

The other point has to do with how performance is measured, normally a rate such as the TFLOPS of a chart is taken and divided by the W of the chart. What is the problem? It is therefore necessary to start from the following elements:

  • It is necessary to start from the fact that each program is different and therefore does not have the same list of instructions.
  • Each program instruction, when translated into micro-instructions in the processor, results in different latencies. Thus, the number of operations for each differs completely.
  • So the performance value you get is not coming from any real application.

In the case of graphics cards, for example, it would be more accurate to measure efficiency by the number of frames per second emitted. The problem? Well, we are in the same situation, since we can manipulate the graphics settings of the game. Therefore, the settings normally used to say that a hardware is more ecological are not true.

The Low Power Trap

It must be taken into account that the more the energy budget of an energy system is increased, the more its performance per watt decreases. This has manufacturers of low-power appliances puffing out their chests and talking about the ecology and efficiency of their products. Which is a half-truth, because due to their limitations, they cannot reach the performance of those who use greater electrical power.

At the same time, it is a dangerous concept, because it places a mistake in the mind of the end consumer, namely that it would be easy to scale the efficiency of low-power chips to higher powers. The reality is that the power needed to achieve certain levels of performance, this consumption is necessary and it would be ideal for the efficiency to be maintained. Why? Less time and money spent thinking about system cooling.

The reality is very different from the way they want to paint it, as time passes the volume of information processed by the processors and memory of computers around the world increases and with it the consumption for the transfer of data. The environmental movement? Moved some tasks that no longer require power to very low power units.


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