Tuesday, September 13th 2016

New California Energy Commission Regulation Threatens Pre-built Gaming Desktops

California Energy Commission (CEC), the body tasked with keeping the US state of California both energy-rich and energy-efficient, is preparing a new series of regulations aimed at reducing power-draw of computers and the overall consumption of PC monitors. These regulations could have a profound effect on the PC industry at large, as California-based tech companies create industry standards. The regulations could come into force at various stages, between 2017 and 2021.

The CEC is said to have conducted wide-ranging consultations with stakeholders in the industry, to formulate regulations that make certain kinds of computers energy-efficient, while not creating the kind of regulation that prevent certain other kind of computers from being sold altogether (eg: gaming desktops and workstations). For example, it's realistic to sell a desktop PC for Internet and office productivity apps that draws under 100W, but it's not realistic to make one for 4K Ultra HD gaming, or even industrial CAD. These kinds of computers will be governed by a separate set of rules, and as you'll find out, some of these rules are very arbitrary, and not very well thought out.
To begin with, CEC hopes to make computers more energy-efficient by setting idle power consumption targets for manufacturers to design their desktops to meet. The average Joe's office desktop should have no problems meeting those targets, as the technology needed to drive such applications has already approached such level of efficiency. Gaming PCs and workstations, on the other hand, will be given exemptions on the basis of an "expandability score." This is built around the idea that some users need machines that are expandable to meet their growing computational needs (think a video production firm that needs to change components in its workstations as it's moving from 4K to 5K video editing).

This "expandability score" is determined by a number of factors, most importantly, the features of specific hardware components. The higher your product's expandability score, the more "maximum idle power draw" it's allowed to have. Logically, something like this shouldn't affect DIY PC enthusiasts (people who assemble their own gaming PCs or workstations by purchasing components separately), since the resulting build is not technically a product, but an assemblage of products. This should, however, affect pre-built gaming desktop/workstation manufacturers.

One of the interesting specs on the basis of which a gaming desktop will be granted a "high" expandability score is the memory bandwidth of installed graphics cards. The draft regulations prescribe a graphics card with at least 400 GB/s will qualify for high-expandability exemptions in the year 2018. The regulators are aware the technology moves forward, and so does memory bandwidth, and so they set this minimum bandwidth requirement to 600 GB/s by 2020. This, in our opinion, is highly arbitrary. Today's high-end graphics cards such as the GeForce GTX 1080, only feature 320 GB/s, and it's expected that by 2018, mid-range GPUs will have the kind of processing power (and importantly memory bandwidth) of the GTX 1080. So you'll see mid-range GPUs with wastefully expensive memory to meet those bandwidth requirements. High-end GPUs will have moved on to faster memory standards such as GDDR6 and HBM2.

What adds to memory bandwidth being an arbitrary criterion is that both AMD and NVIDIA have innovated lossless memory compression tech that make the most out of low physical bandwidth. This is the same as air-pollution regulators using engine displacement to set regulations for cars, when technologies exist to make the most out of limited displacement (eg: variable valve-timing, turbochargers, etc.)

PSUs are the other key component of the regulations. To get a high-expandability score, the machine should also feature a PSU with a minimum capacity of 600W, workstations should feature PSUs with at least 80 Plus Gold switching efficiency. Lastly, a key target component of the regulations are monitors. On most desktops, monitors are the most power-hungry components. The commission is prescribing new standards for display manufacturers, to use the latest energy-efficient LEDs (for illumination), setting a new default brightness standard (since most consumers never change their monitor brightness); ambient-light sensors that dynamically adjusts brightness to the surroundings; new display signal technology that reduces power-draw by monitor electronics by clock-gating if the input frames are successively repetitive, and switching-efficiency standards for the monitor's internal power-supply.

The jury is out on whether these regulations increase costs for end-users in exchange for more efficient tech, but then that's the classic reaction to regulation meeting any industry. Source: DeliddedTech
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94 Comments on New California Energy Commission Regulation Threatens Pre-built Gaming Desktops

#1
arbiter
California is known to be idiots when it comes to law's. Notice you almost never see any commercial trucks registered in Cali. If a company is based there, they will set up a sub office in next state over and register their trucks there to avoid a lot of the law's. This is probably end out working in a way for computers and tv's. 100watts isn't hard for decent size tv even with current tech.
Posted on Reply
#2
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
They are only testing idle power. How is this going to affect anyone with anything remotely modern?

My overclocked 5820K (4.7ghz), 4 DDR4 dimms (@1.35v), SSD, and horribly inefficient R9 290 easily stays under 100w while at idle, running the web, word processing etc.
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#3
natr0n
Stop selling pc's in cali, they will get built on the blackmarket,smuggled under truck beds, in car linings etc.
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#4
xvi
Sounds like once again we have people who don't understand technology making rules about technology.

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#5
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
California is the reason why we don't have 1000+ hp semi-tractors anymore. In situations where 1000+ hp is required, what do they do now? Use two trucks (puller and pusher) which collectively pollute more than the single more powerful truck.

California is a cesspool of extremely bad policies. It does not surprise me, at all, that they throw another on the pile.


"The jury is" not "out." Those monitor changes add cost that presently doesn't exist. They're basically calling for the elimination of HDMI and DVI displays for DisplayPort with eDP chips. In other words, all monitors will need to be made adaptive sync compatible. I'm struggling to find two monitors that are identical except for FreeSync for an apples to apples comparison...


I really want to know who suggested this to the CEC. They usually don't come up with these ideas on their own. Case in point: most regulations on trucking came from lobbying by the train industry.
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#6
RejZoR
Hey America, how about going 230V instead of your crappy 110V if you want things more efficient?





Just saying...
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#7
Basard
Crushing the little guy, one regulation at a time.
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#8
Basard
RejZoR, post: 3522174, member: 1515"
Hey America, how about going 230V instead of your crappy 110V if you want things more efficient?





Just saying...
230V?!?!?! SCARY!!!!!! What if we get ELECTROCUTED!!!???
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#9
RejZoR
Basard, post: 3522180, member: 33749"
230V?!?!?! SCARY!!!!!! What if we get ELECTROCUTED!!!???
It's not voltage that kills you, it's the amps...
Posted on Reply
#10
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
cdawall, post: 3522134, member: 28601"
They are only testing idle power. How is this going to affect anyone with anything remotely modern?

My overclocked 5820K (4.7ghz), 4 DDR4 dimms (@1.35v), SSD, and horribly inefficient R9 290 easily stays under 100w while at idle, running the web, word processing etc.
Same bs as with idling a vehicle.
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#11
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
RejZoR, post: 3522184, member: 1515"
It's not voltage that kills you, it's the amps...
230/240 V dryer circuits do kill
Posted on Reply
#12
Dragonsmonk
eidairaman1, post: 3522191, member: 40556"
230/240 V dryer circuits do kill
same principle applies though.
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#14
Dragonsmonk
Also, lets be fair - it won't really affect anyone browsing forums like TPU as most of us won't have a pre-built PC.
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#15
aldo5
it is always good to make laws about few tenths of Wat power saving.... when you have 2000wat/per room AC on.
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#16
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
RejZoR, post: 3522174, member: 1515"
Hey America, how about going 230V instead of your crappy 110V if you want things more efficient?





Just saying...
Because the cost to change all of the wiring in all of the structures to 210v would cost far more than savings in efficiency. Additionally, most things that plug in these days don't need near that much power so you pay for it in terms of transformers to step the voltage down. LED lights (replacing existing lights) are expensive for 110v, they'd be even more expensive if they had to drop the voltage down from 210v.

RejZoR, post: 3522184, member: 1515"
It's not voltage that kills you, it's the amps...
Actually, it's the 60 Hz. That's about the same frequency as the heart beat which is pretty damn effective at making it stop beating. Europe uses 50 Hz which isn't so close to the heart rhythm.

Dragonsmonk, post: 3522195, member: 110388"
Also, lets be fair - it won't really affect anyone browsing forums like TPU as most of us won't have a pre-built PC.
Actually, it will. Just because Americans don't need RoHS compliant video cards, most sold in the USA are now RoHS compliant. The enthusiast market is likely smaller than 5% of global sales. They're not going to keep a separate manufacturing line running for that market unless they have a damn good reason to. Case in point: lots of truckers now buy new trucks from the factory without an engine and they deliver it to an outfitter that drops in a used, factory refurbished engine with factory warranty. Reason: they produce a lot more power and get better fuel economy than the new engines that have dozens of safety and emission control "features" (thanks California and Obama!).

aldo5, post: 3522201, member: 167096"
it is always good to make laws about few tenths of Wat power saving.... when you have 2000wat/per room AC on.
Hope that the AC doesn't break because good luck finding a new AC that hasn't been effected by similar laws/policies.
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#17
Luka KLLP
Hmm, I'm trying to be a bit nuanced here, but isn't it the case that, not looking at monitors, the companies that make the biggest energy users (AMD, Nvidia, Intel) are already focusing a lot on efficiency? Simply because the market demands it; users generally care a lot about efficiency and the parts have to fit into SFF cases etc.

I think it's a good thing that we try to make PCs as efficient as possible, but I'm pretty sure that's already happening on it's own, without these rules
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#18
TheGuruStud
Europe 240v is lulz. I can repair anything 120v while hot with no risk. I'll be there all day if I have to go around flipping breakers for simple jobs.

No, thanks, keep the 240 over there.
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#19
RejZoR
I'm surprised you guys aren't using DC for long distance electricity transfer...
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#20
Basard
FordGT90Concept, post: 3522217, member: 60463"
Actually, it's the 60 Hz. That's about the same frequency as the heart beat which is pretty damn effective at making it stop beating. Europe uses 50 Hz which isn't so close to the heart rhythm.
Maybe if you're a hummingbird.... :P
Posted on Reply
#21
Vayra86
RejZoR, post: 3522184, member: 1515"
It's not voltage that kills you, it's the amps...
In 'murica, it's not the voltage that kills you, it's bullets.

Or regulations
Posted on Reply
#22
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
RejZoR, post: 3522234, member: 1515"
I'm surprised you guys aren't using DC for long distance electricity transfer...
Edison killed an elephant with Westinghouse's AC. Edison's stunt failed to change the course of history because DC has massive losses over distances.

Vayra86, post: 3522266, member: 152404"
In 'murica, it's not the voltage that kills you, it's bullets.
No, cardiac disease does and that's also true of the rest of the world.
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#23
RejZoR
DC is also nightmare for integrity. If there is a short, it'll slowly burn whatever it is in the way where with AC, it'll short instantly and breakers do their magic. I'm not aware of DC having any of this. Not to mention issues with polarity that don't exist with AC.
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#24
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
FordGT90Concept, post: 3522279, member: 60463"
Edison killed an elephant with Westinghouse's AC. Edison's stunt failed to change the course of history because DC has massive losses over distances.
HVDC is a thing now actually, long distance, and over really long distances it's actually worth it over AC. Less losses than AC, mixing networks, no skin effect...
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#25
Tsukiyomi91
over here in Malaysia, UK & Hong Kong, we're running 230-240V @ 50Hz on all appliances & have yet to encounter "electrocution" or "overload", especially on custom or OEM rigs.
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