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Thin computers and their impact on the environment

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According to Mercia Oosthuizen, product manager: Wyse at Workgroup: ‚It is no longer the case that IT purchasers are solely interested in cost and performance with environmental concerns, most prevalently where energy efficiency is concerned, playing an increasingly important role in IT procurement today.‚

As the cost of hardware decreases and the cost of service, energy and waste disposal rises, the environmental and economic advantages of thin computing grow, she adds.

‚Through our dealings with Wyse, we’ve realised that thin computing fares much better than conventional desktop computing from four perspectives, namely, energy efficiency, life span/reliability, reduction of manufacturing inputs and recyclability.

‚Consequently, there is less of an impact on the environment overall and so, thin computing should be considered a value able tool in achieving environmental goals.‚

Energy efficiency ‚ While conventional desktop PCs consumer an average of 85 to 110 Watts (W), thin clients typically consumer 6 to 15W. When including the prorated portion of the server operation and data room cooling, a thin computing system consumes an additional 2 to 7W more per unit in all modes.

Life span/reliability ‚ On average, thin clients last twice as long as conventional PCs, says Oosthuizen. ‚A PC is typically considered obsolete after just three years because of advances in computing speed, storage capacity and hardware or software functionality. By contrast, because a thin client has no hard drive and hosts no applications, it does not outlive its usefulness in the same time period.‚

Reduction of hazardous and raw materials ‚ Manufacturing a single computer requires raw materials (metals and fossil fuels), water, electricity, and chemicals. The fewer components a device contains, such as in the case of a thin client, the fewer resources are typically required. And a reduced number of components also require fewer electromechanical connections and fewer mechanical fasteners and adhesives further reducing the amount of raw materials deployed.

Recyclability ‚ ‚Since all computers contain various levels of heavy metals and flame retardants in plastics, the reduced number of internal components in thin clients directly results in fewer hazardous materials to be disposed of at the end of the product life,‚ says Oosthuizen. Modern recycling operations are typically able to recover greater than 90 percent of thin client device components for the secondary metals and other recyclate markets.

‚Thin computing provides a viable way to provision desktop hardware in low-intensity, standardised desktop environments,‚ she continues. ‚Businesses eager to ‚green’ their infrastructures and reduce their overall environmental footprint should be considering going ‚thin’ at the same time.‚

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