In our computers there is a device that is based on decades old technology and has not been significantly improved since the early days of computing. As every other component of the computer has either become magically more powerful, or entirely obsolete, the power supply has remained largely unchanged. The New York Times reports that Google is trying to change that.
Google, which owns a heck of a lot of computers, has a lot of interest in making power supplies more efficient. It turns out that creating a standard voltage that the motherboard can then alter itself, instead of having power supplies that deliver variable voltages, can double the efficiency of the computer.
There's really no reason not to do this right now, and you'll probably hear Google pushing for it quite a lot as they stand to save quite a bit of money from that bump in efficiency. But so does the rest of the world.
Power supplies currently eat up about 2% of America's electricity. A switch to constant-voltage power supplies would drop that closer to 1% and simultaneously make alternative power sources like solar a much more attractive option for powering computer banks.
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