On November 1st, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched its revised Energy Star requirements for TV sets sold in the United States. Version 3.0 of this specification now requires TVs to meet specifications for both active and standby power consumption in order to carry the Energy Star Logo. TVs in the U.S. currently consume about 4% of an average household's electricity use, and TVs meeting these new more stringent guidelines are projected to consume 30% less energy. According to the EPA, if all TVs purchased in 2009 were to meet these new standards for power efficiency, the savings in greenhouse gas emissions would be equal to removing one million cars from the road.
The revised Energy Star requirements for TVs were developed by the EPA in consideration of several key technologies driving TV design today. Since different types of display technologies such as LCD, CRT, plasma, OLED and rear-projection all serve the same fundamental purpose, the Version 3.0 testing criteria were designed to be technology-neutral. This allows consumers, when comparing several Energy Star TV sets, to be confident that they are equally energy efficient and that the meaning of the label is consistent across display technologies.
Wide color gamut and motion blur improvement are features that were considered for additional power allowance, but the EPA found that they had a minimal effect on power consumption compared to a TV's overall power budget. TVs with automatic brightness control (which have lower power consumption in low ambient light conditions) were considered in the total power calculation formula and are also noted on the Energy Star Product List.
View full size Table 1: PMax = maximum allowable On Mode power consumption in watts
A = viewable screen area of the product, found by multiplying the display width by the display height
Above are the Energy Star Product Criteria for TVs while operating in the power-on mode. The EPA recognizes that new display technology advances in backlights and OLED displays promise to make TVs even more power efficient. They have proposed waiting six to eight months after Tier 1 requirements (see reference table) take effect to reevaluate display technology and determine Tier 2 requirements. The EPA anticipates that future innovation in TV designs will lead to additional power savings that should be reflected in the marketplace by 2010 when the Tier 2 guidelines are scheduled to go into effect.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.