Green IT in SOHO environment

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Supervisor:
Horváth Zoltán
Department of Networked Systems and Services

Compared to medium and big companies, the SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) environment is particular in several respects; therefore, the reduction of the negative impact of such an office requires a different approach. The purpose of my dissertation is to investigate the current situation in our country while focusing on IT devices, highlighting problematic areas and providing guidance to improve on them.

In chapter 2, I study the carbon footprint of the entire life cycle of a product which reveals that in the world of modern and energy-saving devices it is not uncommon that the production, transport and recycle is responsible for two-thirds of harmful effects, in addition, the energy used while the device is running accounts for merely a third of the aforementioned effects.

In chapter 4, I seek to answer the question of how the ideal office computer looks like, however, due to possible needs; there is no recipe that is by all means effective and well-applicable in every situation. Independent of this, however, for different scenarios we can formulate directives along which we can get closer to a PC that is not only ideal from a green perspective. Therefore, from the viewpoint of environmental awareness and practicability, I study major hardware components separately; apart from raw consumption and performance considerations I touch upon efficiency of systems and in particular power supplies, in addition, I measure how GPU accelerated software perform in the real world.

Smart phones, tablets, minicomputers and e-readers also have to be mentioned since they not only necessarily represent a fashionable trend, but they can even claim a place in a modern office environment (chapter 5). Their common characteristic is that contrary to the currently most supported x86 architecture these devices are built around ARM-based processors hence their high energy efficiency. E-ink is a proven and affordable technology; with the help of e-readers that are based on this technology – even if we cannot entirely stop the use of paper in the office – and with a little effort we can considerably reduce the amount of paper used. An even more important question is that how a minicomputer running on Android and consuming less than 2 watts on average performs in an average office environment, and in what other tasks it would be able to replace a computer that is significantly more costly and has an energy need that is 2 orders of magnitude greater. This is the main question of chapter 6.

Lastly, in chapter 7 I tried to transfer theoretical and practical experiences into a real environment in the frame of a case study where – apart from pointing out hidden (standby) consumers – with the help of different consumer profiles I carry out calculations to establish the cost and recovery period if the equipment park were to be upgraded or replaced. For instance, an ageing configuration consumes approximately 200 kWh of energy in a year, however, a 30 000 Forint upgrade could cut this amount to roughly 60 kWh. Despite the significant reduction in consumption, the investment would only be recovered in 4-5 years by paying a more moderate electricity bill which might seem far too distant, however, in view of the average domestic circumstances the life expectancy of a configuration is far superior to 4-5 years, not to mention that the decreasing environmental pressure makes itself felt from day one.

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