Thursday, November 15, 2007

Going Green: Cyber-Rain XCI Waters Your Lawn When The Internet Commands It

Going Green: Cyber-Rain XCI Waters Your Lawn When The Internet Commands It

This is something I've been wanting, a sprinkler controller that turns off when it's going to rain based on forecast. Of course, you can provide do a lot more benefit to help fresh water resoruces by putting your $349 to wetlands recovery, though with the droughts in california and the southeast you might save some of your power bill if you don't turn off your sprinklers manually.

Monday, November 12, 2007

New revisions of Playstation 3 and XBOX 360

Both the xbox 360 and the PS3 have received minor updates recently which have reduced their power usage. Both the XBox's PowerPC CPU and the Playstation 3's cell CPU have gotten revisions to their manfacturing process (they were 90nm and are now 65nm).

Jump to the end for the power savings. The tale:

Microsoft has been introducing them in to their maufacturing lines slowly along without any fanfare (why the heck not one has to ask) and not labelling them. People have resorted to internet forums to be able to identify the lot #s and manufacturing lines of the new ones. The basic gist is if you get Lot #736 and up from Team FDOU (on the label with upc on outside of box) you'll likely have a 65nm version. All the variations seems to be getting the new chip though the halo3 version seems to be easiest.

The new 40GB cost reduced version of the PS3 has new 65nm version of the cell processor. There was a fairly well confirmed rumor that this new sku was all 65nm which was later denied by sony even though it was confirmed that it uses less power, and then later undenied. So between the removal of the ps2 hardware chip and the new cpu a lot of power was saved. So not only is this new SKU $100 cheaper you could also save $$$ in electricity (though you get a bluray movie instead of a game, a smaller hard drive, less PS2 compatibility and no media card readers)

Both the xbox and the ps3 still have 90nm versions of their graphics chips. The GPUs won't transition to smaller processes until next year (and xbox will probably go to 55nm since it's an ati chip if I recall correctly) the PS3 GPU is called the RSX but I don't know when it will get a new process technology revision.

PS3 (40GB bought 11/2/07)
Off: 0
Booting: 135-136 (max 144)
Menu (XMB): 139-140
Resistance Fall of Man: Cut scenes: 137-138
Playing first level of RFOM: 144-150 (mostly 147-149, peaked at 155)
RFOM paused: 134
Loading Bluray/Menu: 134-135
play Bluray (SWAT ch 16) 134
30x Fast forward 134
Paused bluray 133
Running Folding @ home* 157
Web page loading sony store page 135-138

Xbox360 (lot 737 team FDOU, 2 inductors)
Off - 2 watts
Xbox live active download 95
booting 102-109
media center paused 100
Playing media center 100-105
loading halo 3 104-106 (max 111)
halo 3 menu 121
halo 3 campaign 126-132 (tsavo highway legendary rally point alpha)
paused 129-131
multiplayer matchmaking 115-116
multiplayer 116-124 (most commonly in range of 116-118)

xbox360 hddvd player
off 0-1 flips back and forth
idle 1
opening 3
booting 4-6
spinning up max 10
idle with disc in 6
playing hd dvd 6

UPDATE 2007-11-13

Old XBox 360 (90nm original motherboard)
Off 1-2
peak measured 162
playing project gotham intro 145

All measurements made with a kill-a-watt

So the 90nm version of PS3 used about 200 watts I'm told, now down to 135ish. So 65 watts saved for a gamer playing 10 hours per week, would be 2762 Watt hours per week and , which isn't much at current electrical rates, but if you factor in air conditioning for have the year (let's say doubling elec. usage) and elec rates for clean energy / building carbon sinks might save 5 bucks a week worth of elec. in the summer if you are a really hard core gamer.

* it uses more power but it helps science and might lead to new advances in protein science which could lead to better ways to make ethanol, or anti cancer drugs, alzheimers research, or technology to reduce power usage (proteins can be catalysts which for you engineers, are like having a special purpose processor that can do a calculation in 1 watt that it would take the CPU all 100 watts to do), if you already leave your PS3 or your computer on, or want to donate 150 watts to science please consider running it! more info at

Monday, November 5, 2007

PG&E purchases 177 megawatts of solar energy from plant to be built in San Luis Obispo - CNET

CNET is reporting that PG&E has entered in to a contract to purchase 177 megawatts of solar thermal power from Ausra who is building a 1 square mile plant in San Luis Obispo CA.

They already buy 533 megawatts from a plant in the mojave. This is the first I've heard of a major power company purchasing a solar contract though clearly it's happening already. PG&E plans to expand this 1 gigawatt in the next 5 years.

If anybody has any data on what PG&E will be paying per kilowatt hour for this I'd love to hear it, because they we can get a more true cost of electricity (taking in to account the extra costs for low co2 emission energy and/or renewable resources)

In North Carolina, the NCGreenpower program enables consumers to add extra money to their power bill to have Duke Energy buy their power from renewable resources. Though adding $20/month to your bill (you choose how much you want to add) probably only shifts a fraction of a homes power usage to renewable, it's a start.

So electrimetricers when you are measuring how much power things use and calculating how much this costs you annually, or you calculating off your current bill, future bills, or future bills that use renewable resources?

Inquiring minds want to know.

UPDATE: the linked article in the cnet article says solar thermal currently costs about 13 cents per kilowatt hour. But how much will PG&E be charging consumers?

PG&E links with Ausra for 177 megawatts of solar thermal power | Green Tech blog - CNET "The utility is shooting to get 20 percent or more of its electricity from renewable sources, not including traditional hydroelectric power, by 2010. It currently gets 12 percent of its electricity now from renewables and has contracts that push it up to 18 percent. Most of its renewable energy so far comes from wind and biomass: PG&E right now gets only a little of its power from solar."