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Debunking ZDnet on Intel and power consumption

Earlier this week, ZDnet blogger Paul Murphy posted a full-bore critique of Apple's move from PPC to Intel processors from the perspective of power consumption. By his calculations, the shift to the new processor architecture added hundreds of gigawatts to the energy cost of the Mac population, and thousands of tons of carbon to the atmosphere every year. His tongue-clucking extends to Apple's most visible environmental activist, board member Al Gore, who he says "not only voted for the MacTel switch, but actively campaigned on Intel's behalf prior to the vote," thereby adding pollution to the air while "hurt[ing] America's economic diversity" by cutting IBM out of the Mac processor market.

If your response to this is "Wha?!? Everyone knows that the Intel switch was about LESS power consumption per cycle," well, apparently, everyone but Mr. Murphy. Over at Roughly Drafted, there's a precise and scathing debunking of these bogus statistics and correspondingly off-the-wall conclusions. The core points: the numbers for Intel power consumption are off track for the actual Mac configurations; the PowerPC low chip power figures are for the embedded-system versions (not the G4 and G5 that Apple used); CPU power consumption doesn't contribute nearly as much as, say, CRT power usage (which Apple replaced with low-power flat displays); and, the PowerPC platform is doing fine without Apple as a customer, thanks very much. To sum up, every new Intel Mac uses less power than the older Mac (or, dare we say it, vintage PC) it replaces, and Murphy's carbon calculations are full of hot air.

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