Issue 1


Issue Number 1 - October 26, 2016

Green Gaming News covers green-gaming research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Our motto is “Gaming Energy Efficiency without Performance Compromise”. This work is sponsored by the California Energy Commission, and covers the full spectrum of non-battery-charged gaming platforms, as well as gaming applications.

Meet our team and find out more about our project here.

Back Issues


Energy Factoid

  • See how gaming PCs use more energy than almost any other plug load in the home

  • Tips for gamers on things to consider when tuning up your existing rig or purchasing new components or systems

Comings & Goings

  • We attended GDC and E3, and met with an interesting VR developer

Energy Factoid

Our preliminary estimates suggest that the energy use for a typical gaming PC and typical user profile eclipse that of most other “plug loads” in a home, even that of an electric hot tub! More info here.

Research Results

  • In a clear example of the strides being made and the potential for energy savings, we found a 25% difference in comparative power requirements of two GPUs through the Unigine Heaven benchmark, with the higher-performing unit actually using less energy

Market Metrics

  • Check out the metric of computing power (teraFLOPS) versus TDP for a couple of dozen GPUs in the market

Notable Industry Activities & Emerging Technologies

  • NVIDIA’s Corporate Responsibility report shows how gaming component manufacturers are getting ahead of the sustainability game

Good Reads

  • Here's a summary of the report that started it all

Research Results

Prior to kicking off the current project, we conducted some preliminary bench testing of a typical gaming PC with different graphics cards. The chart below shows two generations of cards, with the more recent one (at the time, circa 2014) attaining about 25% energy savings for the entire system when run over the 10-minute Unigine Heaven benchmark.

Market Metrics

To get a sense of the broader landscape, we did a quick review of graphics cards on the market, with an eye to comparing thermal design power (TDP) with performance. The following chart provides a sense of the wide variations among available GPUs, with more than a factor-of-two variance in TDP for a given level of performance. Note how the new vanguard of products (labeled) are pushing the frontiers of efficiency in a good direction. The chart also shows how rapid progress can be, as indicated by the comparison of the GTX Titan X and the NVIDIA Titan X, which offered twice the performance without any increase in TDP.

Notable Industry Activities & Emerging Technologies

Here is a shout-out to NVIDIA for publishing its seventh Annual Sustainability Report. The report covers a whole spectrum of considerations. The company’s Executive VP for operations notes that “A large percentage of our stakeholders understands that social and environmental responsibility is imperative for business to thrive in an increasingly complex world.” Their considerations include designing products with energy efficiency in mind, looking at the environmental footprint of the supply chain, employee work environment and diversity, and risk management. Notably, NVIDIA diverts 95% of their waste from landfills and has reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 6% per employee since the previous year.

Good Reads

Check out: Mills, N. and E. Mills. 2015. "Taming the Energy Use of Gaming Computers." Energy Efficiency, 9:321–338 DOI 10.1007/s12053-015-9371-1. [PDF]

This is the initial scoping study in this space that gave birth to the larger and more in-depth project now underway. Based on our actual measurements of gaming PCs with progressively more efficient component configurations, together with market data on typical patterns of use, we estimate that the typical gaming PC (including display) uses about 1400 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. The energy use of a single typical gaming PC is equivalent to the energy use of 10 game consoles, 6 conventional desktop computers, or 3 refrigerators. Depending on local energy prices, it can cost many hundreds of dollars per year to run a gaming PC. We found enormous performance-normalized variations in power ratings among the gaming computer components available on today’s market, even at comparable performance levels. Given these variations, the significant energy footprint can be reduced by more than 75% with premium efficiency components and operations, while improving reliability and performance. This corresponds to a potential savings of approximately 120 billion kilowatt-hours or $18 Billion per year globally by 2020.

Here is a key chart from the report showing the breakdown of energy use by operating mode for a typical, middle-of-the-road gaming PC circa 2014, followed by savings achieved with progressive improvements in component efficiency that did not compromise frame rates.

Green-up your Game

    • Tuning up your existing rig: Hunt down those powered slots on your motherboard with nothing plugged into them. Some motherboards allow the user to disable components not in use (e.g., HDMI, PCI-E slots, RAM Slots, or SATA ports).

    • When buying gear: Right-size your PSU. Efficiencies for most products max out at about 50% load, dropping, sometimes significantly on either side of this point, particularly so at low part loads. Remember that nameplate power can be overstated by as much as a factor of two, which could lead to a more expensive and less efficient PSU than necessary.

More gamer tips here.

Comings & Goings

    • We attended GDC and E3 this year. It was great to see all the new tech and build our network in the industry.

    • Nicole Lazzaro of XEODesign paid a visit to our labs and we talked about the state-of-the-art in VR, along with energy considerations.

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You’ll find lots of information about green gaming research at our website.

Send feedback and suggestions of topics you'd like to see us cover to: Evan Mills