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Sustainable is Attainable (3).jpgDeveloping energy efficient processors has long been a design focus at AMD. In 2014 we started talking about our goal to improve the energy efficiency of our mobile processors – those found in laptops, for example – by 25 times by 2020. That’s a lot. Using a car analogy, this rate of improvement would be like turning a 100-horsepower car that gets 30 miles per gallon into a 500 horsepower car that gets 150 miles per gallon in only six years.

We’re well on our way towards achieving this goal with the launch this summer of the6th Generation AMD A-Series APU, also known as “Carrizo.” This latest processor achieves a 2.4x improvement in energy efficiency over our prior generation, placing AMD ahead of the pace needed to realize our 2020 goal. With the product designs currently in development, I’m very confident we will achieve this goal.

 

Developing energy efficient processors for our customers and delivering longer battery life for end-users also aligns perfectly with our efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of our company and our products. It’s also the right thing to do. Climate change is arguably one of the most significant issues facing humankind today. One of the corollaries to improving energy efficiency of our products should be a reduction in their “carbon footprint.” To determine this footprint, the amount of “carbon emissions” from each phase of the product lifecycle, from manufacturing to transportation to consumer use has to be measured. These carbon emissions, also known as “Greenhouse Gases” (GHGs), when emitted to the atmosphere accumulate and trap the sun’s energy, leading to climate change.

 

We recently conducted a carbon footprint study to determine whether the improvement in energy efficiency with the 6th Generation AMD A-Series APU also resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gases. This involved an apples-to-apples comparison of this processor compared to our prior generation product using a standardized reference platform. The study followed the guidelines set forth by the widely accepted Greenhouse Gas Protocol established by the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The study then underwent third party critical review to check for adherence to those standards.

 

The results are now available. The findings show that the carbon footprint of the 6th Generation AMD A-Series APU is approximately 46 percent less than the prior generation processor. This assumes a three year service life and typical usage scenario. The use phase of the processor is the largest contributor to the overall carbon footprint. These results indicate that an end user upgrading to a notebook computer using the latest processor can expect a 50 percent reduction of GHG emissions over the service life of that product compared to one using the prior generation.

 

This sounds good, and it is. And this is another data point to validate that our design efforts are on track. But just what does this mean in terms of the impact? For each individual processor this is fairly small. With larger numbers it becomes more interesting. Consider the use case of a large enterprise. If this firm upgraded 100,000 machines from the prior generation to ones using the newest processors – with other components remaining the same – they could potentially achieve reductions of 4.9million kWh and 3,350 metric tons of GHGs over a three year service life. The power saved would be enough to power 461 US homes for a year.

 

That’s significant. If similar improvements in energy efficiency played out across the larger universe of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) that includes computing and communication devices encompassing not only computers but also televisions, cell phones, network hardware, satellite systems and more, the impact would be dramatic.

Complete results and the details of our Carbon Footprint study, entitled Comparative Carbon Footprint Assessment of the Manufacturing and Use Phases of Two Generations of AMD Accelerated Processing Units, can be viewed here.

 

Mark Papermaster is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at AMD. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.