Low power consumption PC

The phrase “low power consumption” means different things to different people. For a personal/home computer, I would consider 31 to 37 Watts to be in the “low” bracket. That’s why I got hold of an Acer revo a year ago.

More after the break…

The machine is running 32-bit Ubuntu on it’s dual-core Atom 330 processor. A very neat little machine, strapped to the back of a monitor.

Why run this machine always-on ? Well, firstly because I want to use it to collect data from sensors around the house, drive devices based on that sensor data, and serve that data on the web when required (more on this in future posts). Secondly, to serve as a browsing/email kiosk whenever I need those services… Just turn on the monitor and the regular gnome shell is awaiting a password… This is loads quicker than firing-up a laptop to get at my email.

Prior to this, I was using a Lynksys nslu2 (a slug) . I was finding maintaining this machine fairly painful as the unix operating system was niche, and the machine itself was fairly limited. Limited in the sense that it only runs J2ME java, so it limited my choice of 3rd party software, and my choice of language whenever I wrote anything for it. The new machine has Ubuntu, so runs all the software I want (apache, PHP, Tomcat, J2SE…etc) so provides a much more flexible platform for a minor increase in watts/hour used.

Then I had an epiphany. (I’ve always wanted to use that word).

After “fiddling with” and using this machine for nearly two weeks, I realised that I hardly ever use my “main machine”. It seems that for virtually everything this new machine is “fast enough”. Only for image editing have I felt the need to turn on my “main” machine of late.

Another improvement to the house I.T. infrastructure is that I can de-commission a printer. We had two, each connected to a PC. Neither were “network” printers, so you had to turn a machine on to get a printout from that machine. Now with the “always-on” server, I can print from anywhere, and the older printer is no longer required. Of course, the printer isn’t “always-on”, so does need to be switched on when required, but it’s loads better than what came before… perhaps I’ll get the printer on a controlled switch, so I can turn it on remotely… sounds like a good project for later…

So it comes as quite a revelation to me that I can think about de-commissioning my slug, a printer, and nearly all of the need to have a “main machine” because always-on hardware is basically “good enough” for most of my needs.

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