Intel is to open a new Energy and Sustainability Lab at its Ireland offices, with a focus on reducing the energy consumption of consumer devices.
The announcement follows CTO Justin Rattner’s pledge, made last month at IDF, to slash processor power consumption over the next decade, and it was Rattner who announced the establishment of the new lab this morning, at the opening of the Research@Intel showcase in Leixlip, Co. Kildare.
“Intel is not a big power company,” explained Rattner. “We don’t built generators and transformers. The natural place for us to be is on the consumer side, and that’s what’s driven a lot of our research work to date.”
In practice, this suggests a continuing focus on increasing the efficiency of personal electronic devices, extending battery life and reducing power wastage.
“These are very small individual contributions,” Rattner admitted. “But when aggregated across millions, or hundreds of millions, of users, the impact is quite dramatic.”
Rattner showed data from Intel’s US-based researchers suggesting that households could painlessly reduce their energy consumption by up to 31% – and that if just 1% of households did so, the energy saved would reduce carbon emissions by 2.4 million tonnes, the equivalent of taking more than half a million cars off the road.
Motivating consumers to save energy
Rattner suggested that one approach was to turn personal energy saving into a game. “If you give consumers a little bit of information about how they’re using energy, they naturally become more efficient,” he noted.
“And if you give them competitive information – if you show them how their friends and neighbours are using energy – they will work even harder to make sure they’re the most efficient in their neighbourhood, or their social network, as it may be.”
Though some research will still be carried out at the company’s California headquarters, Rattner explained that the new lab is being established in Ireland to take advantage of Europe’s greater political and cultural openness to consumer energy saving.
“The climate in Europe is much more favourable for this kind of work,” he confirmed. “In the US the focus is on the production side, on making energy plants themselves more efficient. There’s less interest in the consumption side. Europe has a more balanced approach. It’s fundamentally a more attractive part of the world [for this type of research].”