The 45W for the amd Brisbane cpu was thermal design power for max expected load; idle power is much less. Newer systems are better now at using less power while idle (>95% of the time for typical home use). One should look at the power draw from the wall socket using a device like the kill-a-watt. See these links for a typical dual core Brisbane system from 2007 vs 6 core Piledriver system from 2012
Idle: Brisbane 87W, Piledriver 72W
Full load: Brisbane 158W, Piledriver 145W
For power efficiency the power supply unit is quite important. One should get a good name brand one with at least 80% efficiency and load it up to 80-90% of max capacity to get highest efficiency and clean power. i.e. don't get a 1000W supply when expected full load is only 300W.
See also the green500 list that shows almost ten-fold increase in performance per watt since 2007 for top super computers
Actually desktops aren't really needed except for heavy applications like sound or video editing; most other typical usage can be done on tablets and smartphones. It's only a matter of time before hooking them up with large displays and keyboard/mouse becomes commonplace. For always-on home servers like file shares or small websites, it's better to use a plug computer that draws less than 5W and switch off the desktop when not in use.
I think it's a good thing that most heavy computing is moving to the "cloud". It's easier to increase power efficiency at few datacenters than at millions of users PCs.
The article also doesn't mention the energy savings by people shopping online instead of at malls, or streaming netflix instead of going out for a movie, or using GPS navigation instead of driving around lost etc.
Last edited by mfyahya; 08-23-13 at 09:23 AM.
Reason: typing <5w broke html
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