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Intel pledges support for new Energy Star standards

Chip giant holds up Core 2 Duo processor as a way for computer manufacturers to create more energy-efficient products.

Intel has joined the burgeoning "green tech" movement by announcing its advocacy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new Energy Star electronics standards.

The EPA revised its Energy Star computer specification on Friday, drawing up new "Version 4.0" requirements to replace standards that have been in effect since July of 2000. Starting on July 20, 2007, computers, servers, workstations and game consoles must meet the revisions in order to qualify for an Energy Star rating.

In a statement released Tuesday, Intel pledged support for the new specification and encouraged other technology businesses to do the same. The processor manufacturer also stated that it will work with the EPA to create processors and other computer components that will help manufacturers attain the revised standards.

To be awarded an Energy Star computer rating, a machine must use on average 65 to 70 percent less electricity than it would if it did not have power-management features. Most notably, it must be able to switch to a "sleep" mode that uses 15 watts of energy or less.

According to Jeff Austin, an energy-efficiency product marketing manager at Intel, the company has "a long history of working with the EPA" that dates back to the introduction of Energy Star standards in 1992. Now, Intel is touting its Core Microarchitecture--particularly the new Core 2 Duo chips, which recently made their way into Apple Computer's MacBook Pro laptops--as an energy-efficient solution for PC and laptop manufacturers looking to meet the new requirements.

Intel archrival Advanced Micro Devices, meanwhile, has been touting its own accomplishments in energy efficiency. This spring, for instance, it formed an alliance with tech mainstays Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and IBM in a "Green Grid" campaign to tackle excessive power consumption in enterprise data centers. Shortly after that, it began marketing a line of energy-efficient chips.

Problems associated with excessive energy consumption are a relatively new topic of debate for the tech industry, but rising fuel costs coupled with increased focus on "green" technology in fields such as the automotive industry have brought the subject to the forefront.

Austin said that Intel has been working closely with the EPA on the new standards, providing data on projections and limitations as well as collaborating on a "how-to guide" for smaller computer vendors so that they can "more seamlessly deliver Energy Star-quality platforms."