NZCS, NZICT not consulted on PC standards

Industry groups concerned about EECA's discussion document on standards for PC and computer monitor efficiency

The NZ Computer Society and NZICT Group, in a joint submission on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s (EECA) proposed standards for PC and computer monitor efficiency say neither organisation was consulted in the preparation of the current discussion document.

NZCS and NZICT express multiple reservations about the proposed standards, some of which they suggest will actually work against appropriate energy-efficient computing strategies in today’s virtualised environments.

The preface to the EECA discussion document says: “Relevant industry associations and stakeholders have been involved in developing the proposed standards through industry representation on standards committees, stakeholder meetings and informal contacts in Australia and New Zealand.”

But NZCS and NZICT seem to have been missed in this exercise, they say.

The submitters have also enquired with other stakeholders and cannot find any that have been consulted prior to late 2011,” the organisations say. “The apparent lack of consultation during the development of the proposal provides a perception of a fait accompli.”

For these reasons, they have asked for the period for submissions, which expired on November 15, to be extended by three months.

The organisations suggest compulsory measuring of PC energy consumption figures and printing of labels will be prohibitively expensive for the makers of custom-built PCs, where each machine or short run of identical machines will need to be separately evaluated and labelled.

Furthermore, they say, energy consumption restrictions on a per-machine basis, as suggested in the draft, could work against the current trend to consolidate a number of virtualised servers onto one physical server.

This is done precisely in the cause of better processor utilisation and thereby greater energy efficiency.

“Implementation of minimum energy standards in a business environment could result in the reverse of the intended behaviour: a necessitation for a greater number of physical servers, with consequential higher overall energy footprint,” they say.

High performance computers used for intensive graphics manipulation or gaming, might not be able to meet suggested standards, NZICT and NZCS add. EECA spokespeople, discussing the standards with Computerworld earlier this year, gave some indication that special extensions to the standard might be provided for such high-use machines.

“For the reasons outlined above,” say the organisations, they “cannot at this time support the implementation of mandatory minimum energy performance standards for computers in New Zealand.”

They urge EECA to maintain a voluntary approach to energy labelling only.

An approach based on increased education for manufacturers and consumers on energy efficiency would be more effective than compulsory labelling, they suggest.

Both organisations offer their help with such an education campaign.

EECA responds

EECA general manager of products, Terry Collins, has given Computerworld a list of parties consulted in New Zealand, which consist predominantly of mass-market hardware manufacturers and distributors and their associations as well as ISPs Orcon and Actrix and the Ministry of Economic Development.

The equivalent Australian exercise was done earlier, he says, so much valuable information came from Australian organisations.

The idea was to consult suppliers first to firm up a draft standard, Collins says; then to put that to user bodies for comment; that second phase is the one currently taking place.

The period for submissions closed on November 15. EECA is willing to entertain requests for extra time and for discussion of topics not explicitly covered in the draft, Collins says; “but we want to do that by direct contact with the submitters, not through the media.”

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