miércoles, marzo 02, 2011

By Tim Mohin, Director of Corporate Responsibility at AMD

It’s a wonderful thing when business priorities line up with environmental stewardship. AMD’s recently released AMD Fusion APU – the AMD E-350 APU– is a great example.

The AMD E-350 APU (code named “Zacate”) is one of the first of the AMD Fusion family of products to be released. At the risk of oversimplifying this incredibly sophisticated technology, AMD Fusion represents the combination of graphics processing (GPU) and central processing (CPU) capabilities onto a single die (computer chip): the Accelerated Processing Unit or APU. The notion behind AMD Fusion in general, and the AMD E-350 APU in particular, is to enable breakthroughs in users’ visual computing experiences. Whether you watch 3D BluRay videos, are a hard-core gamer or just post family photos, the APU can help improve your user experience.

What does all of this have to do with environmental protection? Well, we had the same question. As these products were still being developed, we set out to answer this question by looking at the implications of the “Zacate” product on climate protection.

Working with NetImpact, we hired a bright, young engineer/MBA student to analyze the carbon footprint of this new product. Rather than look at the APU in isolation, the study compared the carbon footprint of a system using this product with a system using current generation AMD products on the market today. We deliberately set up the study to compare the impact of the E-350 with recent technology (rather than older technology) so that we could get a clear picture of the environmental implications of the new APUs.*

The results were, frankly, stunning.

Comparing the AMD E-350 APU-based system against a similar performing AMD-based system with a CPU and discrete GPU, we calculated that it was possible to achieve up to 40% improvement in the overall carbon footprint of the product.

If you have looked at a few of these carbon footprint studies you might, understandably, be somewhat skeptical. To be sure we had the numbers right, we asked our intern to conduct a sensitivity analysis. This means he changed the key assumptions around and re-ran the model…10,000 times. The results varied between 36% and 56% carbon benefits for the AMD E-350 APU compared to the AMD non-Fusion product.

What does this all mean? Well, let’s assume that your system mirrors the APU system we tested, and that your computer use is similar to what we assumed in our tests. Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, if there are 10,000 people exactly like you the carbon savings that could be achieved by using the APU system could equal the same amount of CO2 emissions from burning 30,000 gallons of gasoline. Or, to put it another way, this is the same amount of emissions that more than 58 acres of pine or fir forests can sequester.**

That, friends, is really something to be pleased about.

Tim Mohin is Director of Corporate Responsibility at AMD and a board member of Net Impact. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

*The study referenced in this post compared the total lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (also known as a “carbon footprint”) of an APU system (based on the 18W dual-core processor codenamed “Zacate” and the M1 chipset codenamed “Hudson”) with the latest AMD system codenamed “Nile” (which is based on an AMD Athlon™ Neo II Dual Core processor, SB820 Southbridge, RS880M Northbridge with an ATI Radeon™ 5450 discrete graphics card). The “Nile” system was selected as the baseline to test the APU system because the two had similar performance measures, as determined by PCMark® Vantage and 3DMark Vantage E scores. The study compared carbon emissions of the two systems for multiple points in the products’ lifecycles, including: fabrication; assembly; testing, marking, and packaging (TMP); retail and distribution; and product use.

**The study found a reduction of 27.2 kgCO2e over the life of the AMD Fusion APU product codenamed “Zacate.” The individual savings, when multiplied by 10,000 users, led to a potential savings of 228,000 kgCO2e, or 228 metric tons of carbon emissions. Equivalences were determined using the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Carbon Emissions Calculator, available at http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html.

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