BOSaNOVA Outlines the Green Effects of Thin Clients
January 26, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to think about getting rid of PCs for a lot of end users at your company, but cutting back on energy use and therefore lowering your carbon footprint is something that more companies are taking seriously. Quite frankly, it is low hanging fruit, like using those swirly fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent lighting.
To make its case, BOSaNOVA has put together a white paper promoting thin clients, which it makes a living selling. The company cites an estimate that has made the rounds in the PC-TC wars, claiming that if the 22.9 million desktop PCs used in the United States were converted to thin clients backed by server slices serving up the desktop applications, then companies would save close to $355 million. And that is just energy costs, since a PC burns anywhere from 65 to 250 watts of juice, while a thin client uses about 7 watts and a server slice uses about 40 watts.
These numbers back up those we reported on from thin client maker IGEL in March 2008, which calculated that the thin client-server combination consumed 28 kilowatt-hours of juice on the client and 72 kilowatt-hours for the server, for a total of 100 kilowatt-hours; a PC running the same hours burned 149 kilowatt-hours.
To help you figure out your own costs, the white paper put out by BOSaNOVA lists the cost of electricity in the 50 states, which ranges from a low of 5.66 cents per kilowatt-hour in West Virginia to a high of 31.56 cents in Hawaii. The states on the East coast–New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island–cost between 17 and 19 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is a few pennies more expensive than even California. Obviously, the savings are largest here. The national average cost for electricity comes in at 10.7 cents per kilowatt-hour.
If you don’t want to do your own math on what you might save moving to thin clients from PCs, you can use an online calculator tool to do the math for you. It doesn’t look like the calculator is taking into account that you are feeding applications from a an i or Windows server, but to be fair to midrange shops, they already have this iron and it is already burning juice in their shops and already feeding Windows PCs sitting on their desks. If you need to add a server to feed the TCs, that’s different, of course. Then the savings will not be as large.