UK business should get thin to go green

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Thin clients make environmental and economic sense, says Fraunhofer Institute.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have claimed that UK businesses could save £78m in electricity bills and slash CO2 emissions by 485,000 tonnes a year by switching from PCs to thin clients. 

The researchers investigated the power and CO2 emissions of thin clients compared to traditional business PCs and discovered significant ecological and financial savings.

Thin clients are stripped down PC shells that run almost entirely from data provided by a central server. Traditionally, these clients have no data storage of their own and minimal processing power.

Thin clients have traditionally been shunned as slow and rigid. But as virtualisation and server optimisation technologies become more ubiquitous, thin clients are being regarded in a more positive light as hardware continues to get more powerful.

"Energy consumption when in operation was up to 50 per cent lower than for conventional PCs," said Fraunhofer researcher Dr Hartmut Pflaum.

"While PCs consume about 85 watts on average, thin clients including their server get by with 40 to 50 watts. In view of climate change and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, this is an important factor."

Using an estimate of 10 million business desktop PCs in operation around the UK, the researchers came up with a saving of £78m a year and a cut in CO2 emission by 485,000 tonnes.

"The financial savings are significant but the impact on cutting CO2 emissions is impressive," said Stephen Yeo, strategic director at thin client manufacturer IGEL Technology

"This would remove the equivalent impact of 85,000 average UK households each year.

"Add to this the typical 25 per cent total cost of ownership savings of buying and running a thin client compared to a PC, and there can be no doubt that server-based computing is the economic and eco-friendly way forward."
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