need help with project

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MikeC
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Post by MikeC » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:39 am

jaganath wrote:
Is it possible to undervolt a 35 W TDP Sempron?
The EE Sempron already has a lower supply voltage than the standard Sempron (1.25 vs 1.4V); the question is whether the EE Sempron is simply a normal chip that has been undervolted at the factory (altering the VID value), or it is made of "better" silicon, which is more able to cope with lower voltages.

To cut a long story short, the answer is yes, but it is questionable whether the price premium of the EE is worth the energy savings over an undervolted normal Sempron.
I think for ease of "efficient pc" assembly, yes, the EE parts are preferable. Presumably, they're set up so any mobo w/an uptodate BIOS just recognizes & sets the required voltage settings correctly. No SI wants to mess w/individual tweaking and checking of CPUs/mobos in every system. But the EE Sempron parts are not priced at AMD -- they're obviously not available for general purchase yet. Since the EE A64s are now priced the same as the standard ones, tho, there may be no price hit when they do become available.
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breunor
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Post by breunor » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:16 am

While a sensitive topic to some, I would suggest looking at building a system that runs on an efficient Linux platform rather than Vista. Every third post seems to say, "you'll need twice this or twice that to handle Vista's needs". More powerful video, more powerful cpu, more RAM... all because Vista demands it.

As you mentioned, a small efficient machine typically doesn't handle cutting edge gaming anyway, so one of the biggest issues with Linux isn't an issue (lack of proper DirectX support out of the box). A desktop build of something like Ubuntu works well with minimal fuss and technical knowhow, and is very efficient. You don't need such high specs to get the same speed out of the machine.

One of the suggestions at SPCR is "minimize the components that cause noise, then deal with what's left". I think that works here as well-build a system around an OS that accomplishes your goals efficiently, then find the components needed to power that system. I don't use Linux as my main PC use is for gaming, but if you can set up a system that focuses on the typical email/internet use, this can help you out. No need to even purchase software licenses.

Obviously there's a big advantage to using Windows as it's the familiar OS, and I'm not saying one is better than another. But your desire to do more with less is one of the points in favor of Linux, and might be an option.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:29 am

MikeC wrote:
jaganath wrote:
Is it possible to undervolt a 35 W TDP Sempron?
The EE Sempron already has a lower supply voltage than the standard Sempron (1.25 vs 1.4V); the question is whether the EE Sempron is simply a normal chip that has been undervolted at the factory (altering the VID value), or it is made of "better" silicon, which is more able to cope with lower voltages.

To cut a long story short, the answer is yes, but it is questionable whether the price premium of the EE is worth the energy savings over an undervolted normal Sempron.
I think for ease of "efficient pc" assembly, yes, the EE parts are preferable. Presumably, they're set up so any mobo w/an uptodate BIOS just recognizes & sets the required voltage settings correctly. No SI wants to mess w/individual tweaking and checking of CPUs/mobos in every system. But the EE Sempron parts are not priced at AMD -- they're obviously not available for general purchase yet. Since the EE A64s are now priced the same as the standard ones, tho, there may be no price hit when they do become available.
Hmmm, my retailer has the 35 W Sempron in his price list, and relatively cheap too at EUR 73.99, but delivery time is supposed to be more than 10 days (which can be anything). The Sempron 64 3200+ can be delivered between 1 to 5 days. I'm thinking more and more of building the first few systems myself to save time and money and gain some more experience along the line. It'd also give me the chance to do some measurements to see how efficient the system actually is. I'd undervolt the CPU's just a bit (if the 35 W Sempron isn't available), not to the limit so as to avoid problems. I think with good preparations, ie read everything again on SPCR, and a bit of luck I should be able to pull it off. Anyway, that's for the future but it's good to know I've got a few more options besides the 35 W Sempron 3000+.

So, how's about this 'rough draft':

Antec NSK3300
Sempron 3200+ (1.9 Ghz)
Asrock Alive NF4G-DVI
2 x Kingston ValueRam 256 MB, PC4300, 533 MHz, 4 (for now, haven't checked compatibility yet)
Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 60 GB S-ATA
Samsung TFT SyncMaster 710N 17 Inch, 12 Ms (probably, still have to found out about power consumption)
NEC ND-4570
Logitech UltraX keyboard+ opt. mouse
Logitech OEM speakers
Multiple socket with switch
Win XP Home (+coupon for Vista yay)

That's just about EUR 690 (USD 885). If I can find the right 20 W monitor it should be able to run idle at around 60 W in total?


ecit: I agree with you, breunor, a free and efficient OS such as Linux would be preferable, but it'd make my system even more unattractive than it already is. I want to try and appeal to the growing group of people who are becoming aware of the seriousness of environmental issues (as an aside: I personally don't know how grave it is or will be but the media are jumping on it more and more, so before you know it we'll have a hype on our hands as big as the global anti-smoking campaigns I think). If I am too green, people won't take notice. I just want to make this group use a 60 W machine instead of a 120 W machine with specs they don't really need.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Thu Nov 09, 2006 2:31 am

Another short question: What's the difference between 512 MB and 2 x 256 MB RAM in performance and efficiency? I guess 512 MB is slightly more efficient (and cheaper), but 2 x 256 MB would be better for performance (DDR2), right?

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Thu Nov 09, 2006 3:21 am

2 x 256 MB would be better for performance (DDR2), right?
Yes, because of dual-channel. Be sure to choose a motherboard that supports this.

Shuriken
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Post by Shuriken » Thu Nov 09, 2006 3:44 am

jaganath wrote:[
Alive NF4G-DVI
I have this board, it's great: undervolts down to 0.8V in BIOS, low power consumption, good onboard graphics, DVI + VGA output. One word of warning however: the undervolting options are not available for the AM2 Sempron 2800/3000 (no idea why), so you need to get at least a 3200+.
The Sempron 2800/3000 seem to lack CnQ aswell (even the low power ones). Maybe this is somehow related.
I think the newer AS Rock AM2NF6G-VSTA and ALiveNF6G-DVI have the same options.

I think i will buy an Asrock and normal Sempron combo soon to build something lowpowerish aswell. I was first looking at a Geode. But it seems they are not as energy efficient as AMD would like you to believe.

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Post by jaganath » Thu Nov 09, 2006 3:47 am

I think i will buy an Asrock and normal Sempron combo soon to build something lowpowerish aswell. I was first looking at a Geode. But it seems they are not as energy efficient as AMD would like you to believe.
Also the Geodes don't have much performance; they are really only good for stuff like file-serving.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:50 am

Shuriken wrote: The Sempron 2800/3000 seem to lack CnQ aswell (even the low power ones). Maybe this is somehow related.
I think the newer AS Rock AM2NF6G-VSTA and ALiveNF6G-DVI have the same options.

I think i will buy an Asrock and normal Sempron combo soon to build something lowpowerish aswell. I was first looking at a Geode. But it seems they are not as energy efficient as AMD would like you to believe.
Off-topic: Somehow I can't send you a PM, Shuriken. But there's something I'd like to ask. I sent an email to your mailadress about ten days ago but there were some problems with my mailserver. Did you receive it?

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Wed Nov 15, 2006 8:20 am

breunor wrote:While a sensitive topic to some, I would suggest looking at building a system that runs on an efficient Linux platform rather than Vista. Every third post seems to say, "you'll need twice this or twice that to handle Vista's needs". More powerful video, more powerful cpu, more RAM... all because Vista demands it.

As you mentioned, a small efficient machine typically doesn't handle cutting edge gaming anyway, so one of the biggest issues with Linux isn't an issue (lack of proper DirectX support out of the box). A desktop build of something like Ubuntu works well with minimal fuss and technical knowhow, and is very efficient. You don't need such high specs to get the same speed out of the machine.

One of the suggestions at SPCR is "minimize the components that cause noise, then deal with what's left". I think that works here as well-build a system around an OS that accomplishes your goals efficiently, then find the components needed to power that system. I don't use Linux as my main PC use is for gaming, but if you can set up a system that focuses on the typical email/internet use, this can help you out. No need to even purchase software licenses.

Obviously there's a big advantage to using Windows as it's the familiar OS, and I'm not saying one is better than another. But your desire to do more with less is one of the points in favor of Linux, and might be an option.
Well, breunor, I've come to think again about my initial statement that Linux is not an option. While researching many things, I came across the Ubuntu OS. First of all, I like the whole idea behind Ubuntu. Second of all, I want to keep my system as cheap as possible, and a version of XP at 90 euros doesn't help in that respect. I'm considering offering my systems with Ubuntu already installed. If people want they can order XP with it, but it'll cost them more!

Good thing is I'm giving away my old computer to my mom and I don't want to burden her with my illegal copy of XP (what with the Genuine program and all). I'm going to install Ubuntu on her desktop to see what it looks like and how user friendly it is.

Thanks for the suggestion, breunor, and sorry for taking so long to agree! :lol:

Does anyone agree or disagree, and why?

floffe
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Post by floffe » Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:42 am

It's probably a good idea, saves money and is at least as end user-friendly as WinXP, at least for those who just want IM, browser and email (and all the free games available!). You might wanna look into adding a few basics such as mp3 and flash support, ubuntuguide.org has good tutorials for that.

blini
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Post by blini » Mon Nov 20, 2006 3:13 pm

Hello,
I've been looking into building/buying a low power computer which should be able to do the basics and perhaps a bit more and it seems like you're designing it here! That's great and really encouraging, and I hope the project is a success.

If I bought one of these the 'bit more' that I would want to use the computer for would be to work with photography, scanning in negatives/loading in digital pics, working in photoshop, sending out largish files to a printer.

Question: Would 2x256MB RAM be enough for this sort of operation?

If not, would you consider giving an option to have extra RAM installed? I appreciate this would maybe go over the watts limit that you've set, but whilst I'm prepared to sacrifice speed to achieve lower power consumption, there is an issue of practicality.

Hope this is useful in a consumer needs oriented question kind of way :)

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Mon Nov 20, 2006 3:19 pm

If not, would you consider giving an option to have extra RAM installed? I appreciate this would maybe go over the watts limit that you've set
RAM, esp. DDR2, only uses 1-2W per stick. One of the SPCR regulars built a PC based on a 1.83Ghz Core Solo, 1GB DDR2 RAM and Gigabyte motherboard w/ integrated graphics which only drew 15W at idle. Search for posts by "Smilingcrow", the details are in his most recent post. It should do everything you've mentioned.

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Post by Devonavar » Mon Nov 20, 2006 7:15 pm

I'd recommend at least double that amount of RAM if you're scanning files or using Photoshop, especially at high resolutions. Photoshop will eat all the memory you can throw at it, and, as jaganath said, there's really very little power penalty for buying larger capacity sticks.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Tue Nov 21, 2006 7:17 am

Yes, certainly go for more RAM, blini. And mind, you can't order the EE SFF Semprons (35W TDP) anywhere, so buy a regular 3200+ and undervolt through BIOS.

Good luck and tell us how it goes!

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:43 am

Palindroman wrote:
Good thing is I'm giving away my old computer to my mom and I don't want to burden her with my illegal copy of XP (what with the Genuine program and all). I'm going to install Ubuntu on her desktop to see what it looks like and how user friendly it is.
Okay, so I've installed Ubuntu on my mom's computer. It's perfect for her as she's only going to use Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice. Only disappointing thing is that I expected Ubuntu to let the hardware use less power (however slightly). Unfortunately it's exactly the same.

Is this to be expected? Did I do something wrong? Or is it due to the old system:

AMD Sempron 2200+ 1.5 Ghz Socket A
Asrock K7S41GX
512 MB RAM
Samsung SV2001H 20 GB (noisy as hell!)
Nec dvd-rw ND-1300A

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Wed Nov 22, 2006 4:34 am

Only disappointing thing is that I expected Ubuntu to let the hardware use less power (however slightly). Unfortunately it's exactly the same.

Is this to be expected? Did I do something wrong?
Only reason there would be a difference is if Ubuntu used less CPU to do certain tasks; after all the electrical specs of the CPU and hard drive haven't changed.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:45 am

jaganath wrote:
Only disappointing thing is that I expected Ubuntu to let the hardware use less power (however slightly). Unfortunately it's exactly the same.

Is this to be expected? Did I do something wrong?
Only reason there would be a difference is if Ubuntu used less CPU to do certain tasks; after all the electrical specs of the CPU and hard drive haven't changed.
Yes, silly me. How's that for wishful thinking? :oops:

floffe
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Post by floffe » Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:32 pm

Well, the sane swap handling in linux should enable you to spin down the HDD more often than windows, if you're gonna be really greedy about power ;)

damien
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Post by damien » Thu Nov 23, 2006 4:26 am

floffe wrote:Well, the sane swap handling in linux should enable you to spin down the HDD more often than windows, if you're gonna be really greedy about power ;)
Curious... Does spinning down hard drives have reliability implications?

floffe
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Post by floffe » Thu Nov 23, 2006 12:06 pm

I'm not sure, really. Most errors seem to occur at spin-up/down but then again they are rated for operating hours...

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Thu Nov 23, 2006 12:28 pm

It stands to reason that spin-up is the most mechanically stressful operation for the hard drive, it's like a car, most of the damage is done in the first 10-20 seconds after it's started up. Hard drives aren't designed to be spun up and down every 5 minutes. When we eventually get solid state hard drives it won't be an issue, but until then mechanical wear and fatigue is a very real problem.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Sat Nov 25, 2006 8:53 am

FYI, I've found a monitor that consumes 16-17 watts! That's 5 watts better than number two of the monitors I tested in an appliance megastore in Amsterdam. This means that the budget system (I'm going to research a performance system in December, and then offer both systems on the website) is allowed to consume 43 watts while idle, if I want to make the initial 60 watt-target.

I'm going to order all the components for my prototype budget system this weekend, so I probably can start testing and experimenting next weekend. I'll keep you guys posted.

GHz
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Post by GHz » Sat Nov 25, 2006 10:15 am

Palindroman,

First off, I just want to say that I think your idea is wonderful and I wish you great success. Nobody (computer mfrs.) is really making a big deal about green computing, and I think that we need to get the ball rolling. Hopefully your business venture is the answer. The challenge--as it has already been pointed out--is to sell the idea to the average consumer. Take a look at the Toyota Prius. It isn't really environmentally friendly (batteries) yet people line up in droves (see dealer waiting lists) to buy them. Their success is that they sell people on the *idea* of being green. This is key... hopefully you can emulate this in some way, through education or some great marketing campaign (although this would cost you).

Anyway, since I undervolt everything I can get my hands on, you might want to see my topic (viewtopic.php?t=35532) regarding the Core2Duo. Yes, it's expensive, but it undervolts like crazy and performs well. People will be more enthusiastic about being green if they can have their cake and eat it too. Don't be deterred by cost... people are more than happy to pay a premium if they think they're getting something better than their neighbor's Dell. If you try to compete on cost--even just a little bit--it's not going to work. People intrinsically expect something better to cost more... so make it so. You don't have to rip them off; just buy better/premium components.

Sorry if I'm rambling; I've had about 3 hours sleep and 2 full cups of coffee (a lot for me: I stay away from caffeine except in rare cases like this). Also, I had a similar business idea, except I actually want to build the computers (I enjoy it). I just gave up because I have little money, lots of bills, and I haven't yet figured out how to sell green computing to Joe Average.

Best of luck to you,
-G

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Sat Nov 25, 2006 12:16 pm

GHz wrote:Palindroman,

First off, I just want to say that I think your idea is wonderful and I wish you great success. Nobody (computer mfrs.) is really making a big deal about green computing, and I think that we need to get the ball rolling. Hopefully your business venture is the answer. The challenge--as it has already been pointed out--is to sell the idea to the average consumer. Take a look at the Toyota Prius. It isn't really environmentally friendly (batteries) yet people line up in droves (see dealer waiting lists) to buy them. Their success is that they sell people on the *idea* of being green. This is key... hopefully you can emulate this in some way, through education or some great marketing campaign (although this would cost you).
That's exactly what I plan on emulating. The main reason I'm doing this is to increase awareness and speed up for energy efficiency to become an important standard. If I can gain an income from it, great. If I make more money than I need, I'll have the chance to take on other power reducing projects. Thanks for being so positive.
Anyway, since I undervolt everything I can get my hands on, you might want to see my topic (viewtopic.php?t=35532) regarding the Core2Duo. Yes, it's expensive, but it undervolts like crazy and performs well. People will be more enthusiastic about being green if they can have their cake and eat it too. Don't be deterred by cost... people are more than happy to pay a premium if they think they're getting something better than their neighbor's Dell. If you try to compete on cost--even just a little bit--it's not going to work. People intrinsically expect something better to cost more... so make it so. You don't have to rip them off; just buy better/premium components.
Actually, I had a look at your topic a few times already. As I said, in my previous post, I'm also planning on building a so-called performance system, where the price won't really be an issue. I've been advised to build it around (mobile) Core2Duo, so I might get back to you on this one. Great job you did with the undervolting btw.

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39 watt idle sempron

Post by ivan2006 » Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:05 pm

Hi,

Perhaps this is interesting for you. Sempron 3400 micro-atx abit nf-m2 power consumption system at idle: 39 watts.
The abit nf-m2 seems to be a great mobo.

I've made a few measurements on my system, for those interested. I used Crytal CPUID to set up a low operating point of 4x multiplier and Vcore 0.9V, rising above 40% processor load to 1.0V and 6x, finally to full speed 1.1 Vcore and 9x. The AMD spec on my Sempron is 1.1V lowest, and 1.35V highest. The "gear change" using Crystal seems smooth and quick, I've not noticed any hesitations, but then, I'm not a gamer.

Results:

Maximum power measured in AC line, at 100% proc load (during lengthy analog circuit simulation) , 52Watts
Power during MPEG playback from satellite TV card into 1280 x 1024: 44 Watts (30% proc load)
Power during AVI playback into 1280 x 1024 from HDD : 40 Watts
Power, windows idle : 38/9 Watts

System:

Abit mobo NF-M2 nView
Sempron 3400 SDD (64W TDP) running under CrystalCPUID at Vcore 0.9V/1.1V, 800MHz, 1800MHz, stock heatsink and fan.
80G 2.5" SATA HDD
1G 800MHz DDR2 RAM
Technotrend Skystar1 DVB-S TVcard, with two LNB's attached
Lite-on 831 external DVD, power is about 4Watts extra on playback, 9W max. At the moment this is powered from external wallbrick, but will be powered from 5V when I get a PicoPSU
PSU : unbranded 240W OEM type.

I'm also from holland and planning on building a greenmachine myself.
This info is from this thread.
viewtopic.php?p=303354&sid=e387d8c8a53a ... b8801770b7

groetjes ;-)
http://www.ivanilia.nl

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:38 pm

Sempron 3400 micro-atx abit nf-m2 power consumption system at idle: 39 watts.
Wow, that is impressive, I have a socket 754 Sempron 3000 micro-atx foxconn board and I can't get it any lower than 55W at idle; no doubt the 2.5" HDD helps with power consumption as well. I wonder if my inefficient PSU is also making my power consumption worse?

dougz
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What about the software?

Post by dougz » Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:39 pm

Great discussion of hardware options, but what about the energy implications of the software?

Windows Vista is arguably the "anti-green" computing initiative, with its high hardware requirements. The OLPC laptop and VIA pc-1 green computing initiatives are trying to contain hardware growth, but you have to use appropriate software.
http://www.laptop.org/
http://www.viapc-1.com/

The ability to recycle "obsolete" Windows 95/98 era hardware or run on extremely low-end hardware are a central focus of some Linux distrubutions.
http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/
http://www.puppylinux.org/user/viewpage.php?page_id=1
http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/mini.html
http://puppylinux.org/wikka/ShopPuppy

Reduce, re-use, recycle... Posted from a recycled 900 MHz Duron running Ubuntu Linux. (My other computer is a recyled 750 MHz PIII.)

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:33 am

It took me a while, but today the website for my project went live. Next week I'll probably have an English version. It's far from perfect, but I'm very happy with it as a first step. And I am the first one in the Netherlands to do this, so that's great.

I want to thank all of you who helped me in the right direction and hope you'll continue to help me here and there with feedback, ideas and advice. I have a lot more ideas which hopefully get the chance to get to fruition.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:38 am

I'd like to ask you again for some advice. I'm planning on writing one or more articles on efficiency in the world of computer hardware, now and in the future, and get them published in a hardware magazine and perhaps some websites. All of this of course to draw some more attention to my project.

Here's an outline:

Introduction will be about the growing importance of power consumption of appliances, due to global warming/climate change and dependance on finite fossil fuels such as oil.


CPU


I'll be talking about the difference between AMD and Intel. AMD making things a lot more efficient with AM2 and Intel improving performance per watt significantly with CoreDuo. Maybe I'll write a bit about VIA and what we can expect from future CPU's.

Motherboard

I'll point out the difference in power consumption between single and double chip chipsetboards. I'll talk a bit about ITX and I'm very excited about the promising DTX standard. I'll also include the higher efficiency of DDR2, and the fact that DDR3 will be even more efficient (i think I read that somewhere).

PSU

Of course I'll be mentioning the 80+-program and the fact that 700W and 1000W PSU's are mainly built from a marketing perspective. Perhaps mention PicoPSU?

Hard Disk

2.5" drives are way more efficient and will probably gradually replace 3.5" drives. Solid state and hybrid disks are the future.

Monitor

TFT/LCD are more efficient than CRT, but I'll be writing mainly about OLED and SED.

Conclusion will be somewhat like: Desktop and laptop are merging, computers will be way more smaller, quieter and efficient in the future.

Okay, that's more or less it. I'm going to research all of these things thoroughly because I'm very much a layman. If you have advice or know of other exciting developments that are going to make components more efficient, please let me know and I'll be very grateful.

Bigg
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Post by Bigg » Wed May 23, 2007 1:01 pm

You'll get the most bang for your buck with an iMac, not a white box machine. They are only 35W. And for those Windows Weenies, there is always Boot Camp.

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