a picture of digital accessories
Nathaniel Mills sat in his bedroom in eighth grade, armed with tools. A computer with components he had installed himself was open in front of him. It was finally time to introduce another section. “Building a computer is essentially like playing with digital LEGO for adults,” he explains.
This happened in 2014. He needed a powerful PC to play digital games like Skyrim at the time. So, he was upgrading his old one. Unlike other gamers, he wasn’t only concerned with rapid gaming and movie-quality graphics and music. He was also considering energy. He pondered whether he might construct a fantastic gaming machine while using less power than usual.
Yes, the answer was yes. A typical gaming machine at the time consumed roughly the same amount of electricity as three refrigerators. Nathaniel had used less than a third of that amount by the time he was through. However, it was still a quick and enjoyable digital platform to play on.
Even if you aren’t a gamer, you probably spend hours every day messaging, watching movies, Zooming, and other activities. Charging the batteries in your gadgets necessitates the use of power. But that isn’t the only energy at work. Electricity is used by the networks that transmit signals to and from your gadgets. So do the far-flung data centers that hold and handle most of the material and apps you use. And the instruments themselves are made using electricity.
In most nations, energy is generated primarily by power stations that use fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas. This combustion emits hazardous pollutants that exacerbate climate change. So, the more gadgets you buy, the more you use them, and the more you connect to the internet or the cloud, the more emissions are created and the greater your influence on the environment.
But how much of an influence does an evening of Fortnite or TikTok have? It’s difficult. Some digital activities or methods of communication consume more energy than others. You, like Nathaniel, may make decisions that minimize your energy use while still having fun. Let’s have a look at how.
According to Ana Cardoso, running a video game, especially with realistic graphics, is the most energy-intensive activity a personal computer can perform. She works as a researcher at Denmark’s Copenhagen Centre for Energy Efficiency. A gaming computer consumes around six times the amount of energy that a regular computer does each year.
When playing an actual video game, your computer’s graphics processor (GPU) continually builds a virtual environment. All of the forms, textures, light, and shadows must be rendered or drawn. And, for the game not to lag, it must perform all of this in real-time. A PS5 is capable of performing 10 trillion computations per second, or ten teraflops. The Xbox Series X is capable of 12 teraflops. And what about a graphics processor for a high-end gaming computer? This might be more than 100 teraflops. Meanwhile, the central processing unit, or CPU, has a lot of work to perform to operate the game. It must compute the physics of the universe for objects to interact realistically.
Such intensive processing often necessitates a large amount of energy. According to Cardoso, if your computer’s CPUs are working overtime, the machine may get warm or even hot to the touch. The computer is physically sucking a lot of energy from you.