According to some analysts, PCs are getting unpopular in next few years and are going to be replaced by mobile devices such as notebooks, tablets and smartphones. But actually these analysis are not quite true. PCs and other mobile gadgets have their own place. PCs will handle heavy duty applications while mobile gadgets will be focusing on small tasks. Both of them are quite different from the tasks.
In fact, current PCs depend on mains grid to get running. Their dependencies to the power which is mostly fossil fuel based, will leave carbon footprint even they’re already using the latest energy efficient technology.
Fortunately, there is company based in India, Simmtronics Semiconductor, Ltd, which have marketed the solar-powered computers in that country. The company does make a good start by selling the green gadgets in India. One thing the company doesn’t catch is each of the PC’s components such as display, CPU, keyboard and mouse are not powering themself independently with solar energy. Nothing’s wrong with that, but it would be better if they don’t depend on each other.
So, can the next-generation PCs be no longer rely on mains power? Can each of the components power themself using solar energy? The answer is yes, they are in the right path. Several PC’s components emphasize it by adopting the PV cell as its power source. Some of them are in a design and development stage and the others have already been commercialized. Following are some technologies that are now possible to bring green generation PCs into reality.
Sunflower : Solar-powered LCD monitor
It is not possible for computer display to not depend on mains power. This kind of computer display only need the presence of sunlight or ambient
light to get it running. Although today such a computer display is not available commercially, but Sunflower, a design that is created by Marko Vuckovic is ready to be bring into reality.
While Sunflower is still a concept, LG has also been preparing for the this kind of display monitor. The company are pursuing to make 14.1″ LCD
display for notebooks. Even though it’s prepared for notebook, there’s a possibility that this technology can be used in PC monitor.
Claremont : Intel's solar-powered CPU
It’s a fact that CPU absorbs most energy than other PC’s component. Latest processor chips which are made by Intel and AMD still dissipate relatively high power.
But it seems the problem will no longer exist, since at IDF 2011, Intel demonstrated solar-powered CPU to the public. Claremont, the name given to the chip, was able to operate at peak power consumption of less than 10mW. This is 1,500 times much smaller than current ultra-low voltage CPU technology which consume of 15W or more power. The CPU absolutely needs a small solar PV panel or maybe solar charger which has 1.200 mAh or more capacity.
Logitech Wireless Keyboard K750 Solar
It seems that Logitech has prepared to push solar-powered PC further. The company has marketed Logitech Wireless Keyboard K750 Solar, which sells for $79.99. Compared with other keyboards, Wireless Keyboard K750 Solar is little bit more pricey which is understandable. The PV cell feature which can be seen on top of the keyboard drag up the price. But the added value is we don’t need to replace the battery anymore before it get its lifetime.
Initially, the development of solar-powered mouse was conducted by scientists at the Delft University of Technology. They succeeded in making prototypes, called SoleMio, that can be recharged for 1.5 hours using only solar energy. Even though the development of the prototypes is not known yet, fortunately a China’s company called JGN-Solar has already marketed this kind of mouse.
Hitachi Deskstar P7K500
The other PC’s components such as hard drive and CD/DVD drive are not encouraging the achievement of a green generation PC yet. Of course, they can’t be placed like the previously mentioned components which can still be exposed to sunlight or ambient light because of their placement are outside of the CPU casing. Yet these two components can follow Intel’s Claremont technology in order to consume power in the range of milliWatts.
Get them hybrid!
Looking at the various technologies that are exist today illustrates that creating a generation of green solar-powered PC is not a dream. Even though the high price of a PV cell and the limited duration of sunlight is still a constraint, but in the long term price of PV cells will continue to fall. A hybrid technology could be used to overcome limited duration of sunlight. In this case fuel cell might be the right technology.