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EU Graphics Technology

Will EU Regulations Effectively Ban High-End Video Cards? 303

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the more-power-for-more-power dept.
New submitter arun84h writes "An update to an energy law, which will apply in the European Union, has the power to limit sale of discrete components deemed 'energy inefficient.' GPU maker AMD is worried this will affect future technology as it becomes available, as well as some current offerings. From TFA: 'According to data NordicHardware has seen from a high level employee at AMD, current graphics cards are unable to meet with these requirements. This includes "GPUs like Cape Verde and Tahiti", that is used in the HD 7700 and HD 7900 series, and can't meet with the new guidelines, the same goes for the older "Caicos" that is used in the HD 6500/6600 and HD 7500/7600 series. Also "Oland" is mentioned, which is a future performance circuit from AMD, that according to rumors will be used in the future HD 8800 series. What worries AMD the most is how this will affect future graphics cards since the changes in Lot 3 will go into effect soon. The changes will of course affect Nvidia as much as it will AMD.' Is this the beginning of the end for high-end GPU sales in the EU?" The report in question. Each performance category of hardware has a power draw ceiling; in this case, regulators are increasing the minimum bus bandwidth for the highest performance category, bumping all hardware on the market into the next lowest. Unfortunately, no current hardware or planned hardware on the high end will come under the power draw ceiling for that category.
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Will EU Regulations Effectively Ban High-End Video Cards?

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  • by FireballX301 (766274) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:09AM (#41666855) Journal
    Have the driver that ships with the card be designed to stay under the draw cap so the card is still in regulation, and the manufacturer can just offer the normal drivers on the site for people to download.

    Naturally anyone who cares will install the real driver, so the law-breaking is on the part of the consumer, not AMD or Nvidia. Seems like a simple workaround as long as you can say 'it's the consumer breaking the law, not us'
    • by jhoegl (638955)
      Until the cat and mouse game of regulation requires the manufacturer to allow download of drivers based on IP.
      That being said, what is the thinking behind these qualifications? Surely there are larger power draw concerns on the grid, such as AC, refrigerators, etc.
      • Hey, this opens up BUSINESS opportunities for me, as I have bigass proxy access through UK, US, AU, JP, etc. Shortly put, all regions are covered. I could download the driver from anywhere and life like a fat rat off re-selling the driver to EU. Heh heh.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        Those sorts of things are also subject to energy efficiency regulations.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Yes there are. your fridge and all the things you have plugged in and on all the time takes up about 50% of your daily electrical use.

        Plus why cant AMD and NVIDIA just do what they do in the Macbook pros? low end crap chipset for normal use, then switch on the high power chipset when you actually need it?

        In fact didn't Nvidia invent that tech for Apple?

        • by oakgrove (845019)

          Plus why cant AMD and NVIDIA just do what they do in the Macbook pros?

          Sure but knowing the way bureaucracy works, they'd just get dinged anyway on the higher end part. Not only that but how much would that capability add to the cost of the typical discrete card? I'll bet the driver development, additional silicon, and added complexity comes at a fair price.

          The market only bears so much especially when you are talking about bloating high end GPUs with components that have nothing to do with the singular purpose of the almighty frame rate. I guess those are the headaches the

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, they invented it "for Apple". Never mind that other laptops have been using it since way before Apple switched from PPC to Intel.

          Damn fanboys and their revisionism.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:23AM (#41666899)

      Betteridge's Law of Headlines [wikipedia.org] states the following: Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'.

      Nine times out of ten there has been scaremongering about EU regulations, the disastrous consequences haven't occurred. Maybe it's because the regulations weren't as bad in the first place, maybe it's because of the public outbreak, I really don't know... but these sort of issues tend to get fixed. Maybe certain sections are reworded, maybe technology companies are given a special permission to sell their latest models even if they break the limit, acknowledging that it's needed for the technologies to kick off so they can later be optimized (Latest Intel processors require a lot less energy than they used to). Then again... maybe it isn't such an issue even if this does come to effect. I'm not saying "Graphics will never get better than they're now!" but I'm saying that they've been stagnating and the sacrifice that I, as a gamer, might be forced to do wouldn't be that bad.

      As for the parent post, the customer who installs a driver wouldn't be breaking the law. This - even if it came to effect - would limit the sales, not criminalize the components.

      • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:09AM (#41667267)
        The EU's energy policies have been relatively sane, usually consisting of prominently displaying a device's energy rating in a simple letter grade. Devices which get an A+ or A rating have a natural sales advantage over those with a lower rating such as a B, C or D. It doesn't stop someone buying a lower rated device but the rating clearly it pushes demand towards efficiency and in turn manufacturers respond to that demand. Net result is lower power consumption devices.

        I really don't see the big deal with regulation attempting to steer PCs towards efficiencies too which obviously includes integrated or discrete graphics processors. I could see that it could impact sales of high end cards but it might also act as the incentive manufacturers need to produce more efficient cards in the first place. I'm sure there is a correlation between energy draw and performance but its not exactly 1.0 and I expect that a lot of things a card could do to reduce its power draw aren't being done because the incentive wasn't there for manufacturers to pursue it. Now it is.

        • by Bengie (1121981) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:46AM (#41667717)
          efficient != low power consumption

          GPU gained more than 20x work per power used in the past 5 years. Should a 5 year old 50watt GPU be pushed over a 200watt modern GPU? Also, most modern GPUs are idle most of the time. Idle power draw is the overwhelming average load. Even when loading the GPU in games, most games can't push GPUs. Most of my games leave my GPU over 50% idle and I have an "old" ATI6950. I've been playing WoW with "Ultra" settings and that's only putting me about 8% GPU load.

          I also have Civ5, BC2, and a few other games that can actually load the GPU, and even then mine is in the 60%-80% range.

          My guess is the biggest benefit to lower peak TDP GPUs is not needing as much cooling to handle peak load. If GPUs really are idle most of the time, then it's mostly wasted potential. Game reviews will show little difference between high and low end and people will gravitate towards the lower end to save money. No point in forcing regulation when the market should fix itself.

          Anyway, "efficiency" has been a huge priority for the past many years. Datacenters are wanting power efficient number crunchers for a while now.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            My new 7870 idles at about 40W LESS than my previous 4870. It is also more powerful, and uses less power under load as well.

            Not sure why people are ignoring all the advancements in GPU efficiency lately.

      • by oakgrove (845019) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:48AM (#41667425)

        Nine times out of ten there has been scaremongering about EU regulations, the disastrous consequences haven't occurred. Maybe it's because the regulations weren't as bad in the first place, maybe it's because of the public outbreak, I really don't know... but these sort of issues tend to get fixed. Maybe certain sections are reworded, maybe technology companies are given a special permission to sell their latest models even if they break the limit, acknowledging that it's needed for the technologies to kick off so they can later be optimized (Latest Intel processors require a lot less energy than they used to).

        What are the chances that flawed legislation would get these kinds of revisions if people didn't speak up? If the constituency hadn't voiced their concerns would SOPA have just died a quiet death too? Yes, crying wolf at every little thing loses its effectiveness after a while but when the criticism is justified you'd better speak loudly while you still can because when the law gets signed its over.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:03AM (#41667495) Homepage

        What usually happens is some journalist gets hold of an early draft of some proposal and writes a story as if it were a firm plan in the process of being implemented. Then over the next few years it is debated and the problems ironed out, and all the predicted badness fails to materialize.

        Either that or the press just lies. Straight bananas [youtube.com], anyone?

      • Betteridge's Law of Headlines [wikipedia.org] states the following: Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'.

        Are there any non-paedophile priests?
        Are there any good teachers?
        Is anything found on the internet true?

      • by ghmh (73679)

        Interesting 'law'.

        I have my own guideline where if the headline is of the form:

        {start of sentence} may {end of sentence}

        I no longer bother reading the article.

    • by Angostura (703910)

      This is akin to the way that kitchen appliance manufacturers work. Ovens, dishwashers and washing machines all have an 'Eco' setting - all of which will get the machine the coveted excellent energy rating but which will, in most cases never be used. I've seen something similar on a car.

    • Its that sort of manoeuvre that regulatory bodies love to slap down, as its an obvious attempt at an end run around regulations.

       

    • by Alkonaut (604183)
      I think this is a stupid regulation to begin with, but if I was making the regulation, I'd just make sure it stated that the device shouldn't be *able* to draw more than X watts, regardless of driver etc. That is, even with a hacked and supposedly unsupported driver, the device should stay under the ceiling, or not function, otherwise the fault is at the manufacturer. Worse, if the manufacturer itself provides the driver, they should be fined even steeper than if a lone hacker provides it. Feels like if you
  • It's okay (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spy Handler (822350) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:13AM (#41666867) Homepage Journal
    EU won the Nobel peace prize so they can slow down your FPS game framerates
  • Loophole (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I only read a few bits of the document, but I think there's a loophole. ...
    This Regulation shall not apply to any of the following product groups: ...
    (v) game consoles; ...
    Game console means a mains powered standalone device which is designed to provide video game playing as its primary function. ...

  • Is this for real? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dabadab (126782) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:22AM (#41666897)

    The thing is, the actual, public regulations have very little similarity to the fear-mongering (and certainly click-generating) article on nordichardware. You can check it out yourself: here (pdf) [eup-network.de].
    Also, note, that these regulations are about idle power - and that's an area where some real advancements were made - if AMD's claims are to be believed (3 W in idle with ZeroCore Power), their top-end 7970 GPU's idle power draw is about 10% of the maximum allowed.

    The claim that GPUs over a certain bandwith will be banned seems to be absolutely fabricated - it's not something that the regulation's wording or intent or whatever would even hint about.

    • First they came for our idle power maybe? (Not seriously, but maybe?)

    • re: Bandwidth (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lonewolf666 (259450)

      Yes, that seems to be misreported.

      The only reference to bandwidth I could find is in the following:

      1.1.3. Category D desktop computers and integrated desktop
      computers meeting all of the following technical parameters are
      exempt from the requirements specified in points 1.1.1 and
      1.1.2:
      (a) a minimum of six physical cores in the central processing
      unit (CPU); and
      (b) discrete GPU(s) providing total frame buffer bandwidths
      above 320 GB/s; and
      (c) a minimum 16GB of system memory; and
      (d) a PSU with a rated output power of at least 1000 W.

      In short, it is an exemption for very high end computers from certain power requirements, not a ban. Nordic Hardware's Jacob Hugosson has delivered a very bad article there.

      • by dabadab (126782)

        Well, if you read a little bit further down you will see that this exemption will expire 30 months after enacting the regulation - but it is mostly moot anyway, since a desktop computer has to satisfy all four of the requirements above to be exempted, so it effects only a very-very small number of computers.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      The claim that GPUs over a certain bandwith will be banned seems to be absolutely fabricated - it's not something that the regulation's wording or intent or whatever would even hint about.

      My reading of it is that GPUs over a certain bandwidth are completely exempted from the regulations. To bring up a car example, it's how a Semi isn't included in car MPG/LP100K regulations, because it's considered 'special duty' or 'high performance'.

      For whatever reason, bandwidth was the performance metric the regulators fixated upon, but even with more and more stuff being done within the GPU(such as simulation physics), bandwidth actually isn't an issue at the moment. Perhaps the high end cards are cap

      • This is for "idle" power usage, if your high-end card uses enough power when idle to fall foul of this it is badly designed ...

  • No! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:28AM (#41666913)

    'Will EU Regulations Effectively Ban High-End Video Cards?'

    "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_Headlines [wikipedia.org]

  • by burne (686114) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:28AM (#41666917)

    Read the actual document people.

    This is not policy.

    This is not even draft policy.

    THIS IS NOT EVEN RESEARCH INTO POLICY.

    This is a PRELIMINARY REPORT that looks at potential solutions to rising energy costs and e-waste within the EU by helping people use less power. It merely outlines a variety of means through which this can be achieved in the EU. What is outlined in the shambolic article above is merely one part of this large, well sourced report.

    Yet more BS made up by Europhobes.

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      The claim is that the preliminary report is not the source here. It's just being used as a reference for what the guidelines look like. The news, as it were, comes from some anonymous source within AMD. They're the one saying that this is moving quickly toward becoming a real policy. There is no validated source to be found here. This is posting a rumor claimed to be an insider leak.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      also, wouldn't apply to docking stations.

      (but would apply to workstations, which is kinda fucked)

    • by Burb (620144)

      I look forward to seeing this on the front page of the Daily Mail.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
      "It is at first denied that any radical new plan exists; it is then conceded that it exists but ministers swear blind that it is not even on the political agenda; it is then noted that it might well be on the agenda but is not a serious proposition; it is later conceded that it is a serious proposition but that it will never be implemented; after that it is acknowledged that it will be implemented but in such a diluted form that it will make no difference to the lives of ordinary people; at some point it is
  • by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:28AM (#41666919) Homepage
    Firstly it's not something that is even planned for implementation, let alone dated and incoming. If the EU really were to put a limit on the power draw of graphics card to come in 5 years from now which required cards to use 1/2 the power it would hardly matter. There would be a small decrease in the rate graphics improve while they focus on improving efficiency.

    Probably my bigger gripe is that it would be simpler, and likely more effective, to tax power use rather than try and legislate what is/isn't allowed in various electronic devices. A generic tax would increase uptake and development of efficient devices and encourage people to be less wasteful while still allowing them to buy some inefficient items (gfx cards if required) and pay accordingly. They're going to tax us anyway so it might as well be focused on discouraging unsustainable behaviour instead of, for example, having an income.
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Firstly, the EU doesn't have the power to tax energy use, that is down to member state governments. Secondly, most people tend not to consider energy efficiency when buying stuff. I do for most things, but not desktop computers where I want the fastest machine I can afford.

      If you have something like 100,000,000 workplace computers in the EU and you can reduce power consumption on each one by 50W, that works out at a saving of something like 10TWh of electricity per year.

      • If you have 100M computers in the EU and can reduce the power consumption of each one by 10%, you will reduce the total power consumption of those computers by 10%.

        Besides, low end graphics cards do not use 50W and office computers have low end cards, unless they are used for graphics and actually need the fast cards (most don't). Low end cards are also cheaper than the more powerful ones, so businesses use them (or even use integrated graphics).

    • by Alkonaut (604183) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @05:22AM (#41667103)
      This is a usual complaint with regulations such as this. The other obvious example is the light bulb ban. The problem with your approach is that adding a tax on electricity that is big enough to give an impact on peoples' shopping behavior when it comes to light bulbs, would mean industry would pay through the nose for electricity that actually creates jobs, and electricity that does work that can't be done more efficiently. The difference between that electricity and a light bulb is that at low power bulb can light a room with much less power than an old style 60W bulb. If we increase electricity taxes and don't wan't to lose competitive power in our industry, then we have to have a VERY complex system of energy subsidies to industry. A simple ban on a few consumer products is way simpler to implement and regulate, even though it might seem like micromanagement.
      • by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:03AM (#41667243) Homepage
        Comparative to the complexity of setting acceptable power consumption figures for graphics cards and a myriad of other devices those obstacles are trivial. What about dual and quad card setups, what about clocking of cards (artificially limiting but allowing users to unclock), what about outsourcing gfx card work to other cards, how about people who are using gfx cards to handle work more efficiently than would be possible on a CPU etc.

        Yes making electricity more expensive knocks onto hundreds of other things but so does making fuel more efficient and it hasn't stopped us implementing some of the highest taxes on fuel. There's also a reason why average MPG for cars in Europe are so high compared to the US.

        If the issue is that certain high power consumption industries would cease to be viable because of the increased costs and risk of imports then bring in tariffs for imports that charge the balance. It already makes no sense that we require EU producers to manufacture products with high taxes on unsustainable behaviour and then allow the market for products to go to importers who don't have to follow those regulations.
      • by N1AK (864906)

        The other obvious example is the light bulb ban.

        To be fair the light bulb ban is based on a technological advancement that can improve efficiency by an order of magnitude on probably the most numerous power consuming product on earth and where the saving in energy cost exceeds the initial outlay. In circumstances as one sided as that the case for a ban is more compelling.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        True, energy taxation wouldn't solve the problem, assuming there is a problem to begin with. These regulations try to limit energy waste, which instinctively seems like a bad thing while it really isn't. If I connect a lightbulb to a solar panel that energy is totally wasted (who needs lights at daylight?), yet no damage was done. If the regulators think energy waste is a bad thing, they should first try to figure out why is it supposed to be bad. Because the real cause is not energy waste. It might be depe

      • We already have a complex system of energy subsidies to industry, at least in Germany.

        The subsidies for renewables are paid by an additional fee on one's electricity bill, the so-called EEG apportionment. Only that large industrial consumers don't have to pay it.

    • Mandatory caps of this type worked fine for cars in EU countries, inasfar as I'm aware. The target gas consumption per km decreases over time, and car makers strive to beat it in order to avoid pollution-related taxes. This leads to more innovation and less energy consumption, for the benefit of everyone. As interesting side-effects, the targets conveniently keep low-tech cars made in China and India out of European markets, and the few who arguably get priced out of the car market end up riding bicycle or

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:31AM (#41666929)
    IANAL but looking at the draft regulations they have this totally wrong.

    1.1.3. Category D desktop computers and integrated desktop
    computers meeting all of the following technical parameters are
    exempt from the requirements specified in points 1.1.1 and
    1.1.2:
    (a) a minimum of six physical cores in the central processing
    unit (CPU); and
    (b) discrete GPU(s) providing total frame buffer bandwidths
    above 320 GB/s; and
    (c) a minimum 16GB of system memory; and
    (d) a PSU with a rated output power of at least 1000 W.

    So the high end cards in high end systems are not banned but exempt. Anyone who is a lawyer care to comment on my interpretation?

    • by jiriki (119865)

      The reason for this is probably that power saving is most effective for the "common machines", because most office computers do not really need high performance graphics cards.

      On the other hand you do not want to prevent companies doing serious graphics work (movies, advertising) from operating. So I guess this makes sense after all.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @05:41AM (#41667169)
      Not a lawyer, but am a PC gamer. The computer needs to meet all of those requirements, and I would think that there are very few enthusiast PCs which hit all of them. My rig flies through the most recent games, but only meets one of those specs: 16GB RAM. I run a 750W PSU, Core i5 2500k (4 cores), and a GTX 670 (198GB/s bandwidth) which puts me well under the mark.

      This exemption is for servers and parallel computing setups with multiple discrete GPUs. The only single cards which hit the 320GB/s bandwidth mark are the dual GPU cards, which is just two regular cards in Crossfire / SLI on one card. Top line Core i7 still only have 4 cores; You need Xeon or high-end Bulldozer CPUs to qualify (cores per CPU, remember).

      This isn't a gamer's exemption. This is for server farms and universities running clusters.
      • by ifrag (984323)

        You need Xeon or high-end Bulldozer CPUs to qualify (cores per CPU, remember)

        Or an Intel Extreme Edition, i7-980x / i7-990x / i7-3960X, or even the i7-3930K (non extreme 6 core apparently).

        My gaming rig barely falls short as well due to the single GTX 680 bandwidth.

      • This isn't a gamer's exemption.

        Not their intention, but by the time they actually got this law written and implemented, it probably would be a gamer's exemption. And that right there is just one of the problems with trying to set limits this way, the pace of PC hardware is far faster than the pace of legislation.

    • Looking at it, it says that the computer has to meet ALL of the requirements.

      My computer is 'high performance'(or at least was), but it's only a quad core and doesn't have a kilowatt PSU.

      Which would be bad while tossing in a hexacore CPU and a kilowatt PSU isn't that hard, it's generally not necessary even with the hottest graphics card on the market today. A lightly loaded kw psu will waste more than a smaller, moderately loaded but well designed supply. A 750W power supply that isn't lying about it's r

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:07AM (#41667257) Homepage Journal

        Which would be bad while tossing in a hexacore CPU and a kilowatt PSU isn't that hard, it's generally not necessary even with the hottest graphics card on the market today. A lightly loaded kw psu will waste more than a smaller, moderately loaded but well designed supply. A 750W power supply that isn't lying about it's ratings and a quadcore works well for games.

        Thus creating the dilemma of making a machine consume MORE power in order to be exempt. Much like how MPG requirements made cars less attractive to consumers and helped spark the SUV craze, because SUVs didn't have the same requirements.

  • These devices which draw more energy? Do they not output more results?

  • If electric consumption is to be reduced, why tax/ban/restrict devices instead of taxing electricity more? Now people building game rigs are going for 300W SLI solutions instead of 200W high-end card solutions. But of course, people need electricity for "real" work, so it should not be taxed as is.

    The same kind of lawmaker idiocy has infected car markets, at least here in Finland. New cars are taxed based on their manufacturer-claimed, usually quite unrealistic CO2 pollution values. But it's the fuel that p

    • Because the power draw of your PC is negligible next to your (hypothetical) electric car. Modifying the price of electricity such that inefficient computers and light bulbs are expensive would render other day-to-day electricity uses prohibitively expensive.

      The PC industry is currently inherently energy-inefficient, because they're constantly fighting for the next-gen "top end" components, and the current-gen "average" is last gen's top end. No-one really focuses on energy efficiency, because it doesn't s

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @04:54AM (#41666995)
    Whoever is stupid enough to make this a topic on Slashdot: this is a right wing troll. The big bad evil government is not going to rip your high end gaming machine from your cold dead hands. Stop wasting our bandwidth and time with this dumb ass crap.

    I think this is deliberate counter propaganda that shows up more often when there is some big scandal about business doing something stupid that screws a lot of people. In this case I guess it is the compounding pharmacy that caused the meningitis epidemic. The corrupt criminal organization calling itself the "International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists" successfully lobbied Congress to defeat attempts to regulate their industry. Now there are over 200 meningitis cases and 15 deaths, and the number of exposed patients may be higher because more drugs were tainted.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444657804578052972230404046.html?mod=googlenews_wsj [wsj.com]

    If you want to be paranoid about something, worry about corrupt politically connected businesses risking your life for profit. It actually happens. Not that it often ends up on Slashdot, as opposed to right wing scare tactics.

  • All workaround and perceptions aside:
    The proposal is absurd.
    Now they regulate your PC, next they regulate your coffee machine.
    They already made old fashioned light bulbs extinct.
    So what is next?

    They just regulate and not do it the other way by making the market move in the `right` direction by lowering prices.
    So what will this do to our PC's?
    • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ledow (319597) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @05:40AM (#41667167) Homepage

      Nothing. A lot of things are exempt. And this isn't law at all, and certainly not law in all EU countries yet (that takes years to happen).

      And, at the end of the day, RoHS regulations, CE testing / FCC certification (only one of which is necessary for any one country but BOTH of which are passed for almost every device, even if that means limiting the device in a way not required by local law!), etc. put a MILLION times more constraints and restrictions on things that you have in your PC and you haven't once moaned about that. Because, by and large, you won't notice and won't care. I bet your PC has a "spread spectrum" option in the BIOS and, if it doesn't, it's because it's on by default.

      In the same way that nobody cares about energy ratings on their fridge or freezer (I don't even know what mine is), nobody would care about a voluntary system. So, over time, the ratings move to mean that any fridge has to have a basic minimum criteria in order to work and be sold as a fridge. As a result, almost all the fridges in shops nowadays are A-rated because people DIDN'T care (like you don't care about the reason behind the proposed legislation, you just want to run your unnecessarily-powerful-when-idle graphics card), so they made the manufacturer's care instead.

      You didn't complain about your car needing to have electronic engine management to pass EU emissions tests. That's basically the whole point of catalytic convertors and ECU's in cars - to allow you to pass the emissions tests. They actually severely limit the car's capabilities for the sake of an environmental concern that only affects things when scaled up by millions of units. Yet every year the tests get more stringent.

      What's different? Because it touches your PC? PC's are somehow magically exempt from regulation because you're a geek? I'm sorry to tell you that they aren't. They are already the subject of lots of changes that were enforced upon them by both EU and US laws (and where most manufacturers target the lowest common denominator, losing you even more) and so cost more than they theoretically need to, perform less than they theoretically could and aren't allowed to be sold if they don't.

      P.S. your graphics card doesn't need to consume 200W on idle. It really doesn't. And, nowadays, that's the equivalent of a houseful of light bulbs. You were just the next highest-energy user on the list of home products that doesn't involve heating (a necessary expense if you don't want millions to die from the cold / undercooked food).

  • by Alkonaut (604183) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @05:25AM (#41667119)
    Regulating idle power draw would actually be good, and a lot more clever than regulating the power ceiling. Saying that desktop computers can't use more than 10W in idle, and no component sold discretely can use more than 5W idle would make a huge difference. In reality, those of us running these 300W graphics cards only run them for a fraction of the day, and if they were 150W instead would make much difference, whereas a difference between 20W and 10W for the idle power would make a bigger difference over a week or a year.
    • How often is your graphics card really idle?

      In my case it's only when the display is turned off.

      2D isn't idle. Sure, it's not 300W, but it's not idle either.

      • by Nimey (114278)

        "Idle" is shorthand here for "not doing any heavy lifting", i.e. just showing the desktop and not doing any serious 3D or video acceleration.

  • This is a "working document", still a far cry from becoming official regulation. Moreover, once it becomes an official EU directive, it must still be implemented by each EU country separately; this is a process that can take years and years. In the mean time, there is space for lobbying, parliamentary action and all kinds of measures on national ( EU country ) levels to circumvent or soften the regulation. TFA is stirring up sensation where, truly, there is nothing to be seen.
  • 640kB should be enough for anybody.
  • If we can't have a single high-power graphics card, can they stop us linking up 4 or more medium-power cards in one system?
  • Just like how the auto industry cries foul when legislation comes up about enforcing fuel efficiency standards, and then still find a way, so will nVidia and AMD. Sure, they might have to work harder, but it's not like they have a choice. They can't simply disregard the whole european market.
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @05:51AM (#41667201)

    The scope of this Regulation covers products from the following list that can be
    powered directly from the mains alternating current (AC) including via an external or
    internal power supply:
    (i) desktop computer;
    (ii) integrated desktop computer;
    (iii) notebook computer (including tablet computer, slate computer and mobile thin
    client);
    (iv) desktop thin client;
    (v) workstation;
    (vi) mobile workstation;
    (vii) small-scale server;
    (viii) computer server.
    (3) This Regulation shall not apply to any of the following product groups:
    (i) blade system and components;
    (ii) server appliances;
    (iii) multi-node servers;
    (iv) computer servers with more than four processor sockets;
    (v) game consoles;
    (vi) docking stations.

    This regulation only applies to computers not graphics cards. Folks who assemble their gaming rig themselves can continue to do so.

  • I certainly hope so! Would be nice if everybody stopped only caring about graphics, when it comes to games.
  • Hehehe, this sounds like a great news for OnLive... oops too late.

  • It'd be better if, instead of limiting the ceiling like that, they set a minimum requirement on efficiency. Numbers pulled from my ass:

    GPUs: Minimum of 10 GFLOP/watt
    CPUs: Minimum of 750 MFLOP/watt

    Then you can slowly increase the requirements over time as technology matures.

    This way you don't have to limit legislation to desktop computers or similar - it can easily be applied to portables and mobile devices.

    Want to use a 1W CPU in your tablet? It has to deliver at least 750 MFLOP/s. Include maximum power dra

  • Debunked... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Valor958 (2724297) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @08:34AM (#41668211)

    This came up on Overclock.net on the 12th, which spread into a large debate and was looked into by a member rather well. This is what he found:

    "It's the journalist who is trolling. It's baseless nonsense with a sensationlist title. And he caught most of you hook line and sinker.

    Just a few things you could notice if you take a moment to think it through.
    All directives, proposals, studies and reports of EU law are publically available. All data must be openly published. So he would be able to link to any proposals.
    Therefore "NordicHardware has seen exclusive information about a new energy law that will apply within the EU" is bullcrap.
    Only link is to a report from 2007 which looks at possible means of reducing CO2 emissions.
    That "buffer bandwidth" table in the middle of the NordicHardware article is based on data collected in 2006.
    Report was part of an ongoing study but it hasn't been active since 2008.
    The EU directive that the report relates to was recast in 2009, so it's not even valid reference material.
    New directive took until December 2011 before publishing any report. You can read it here http://www.meerp.eu/documents.htm [meerp.eu]
    "AMD is worried ..." with no explicit quote. Who said that? Why would they be worried about a report that hasn't resulted in any actual proposal.
    Contrary to "Graphics card energy consumption has been rising steadily over the last couple of years" GPUs are actually getting more efficient.
    "We definitely feel that restrictions that lead to more efficient hardware is a good thing, but it needs to be done properly with the affected companies being involved in the discussion." Journalist obviously doesn't realise that 110 stakeholders (affected companies) were present at the Meerp stakeholder meeting of 9 September 2011. Journalist also doesn't realise that AMD is listed as a stakeholder since at least 11 July 2011.
    "According to a report published in August this year the current roadmaps [from AMD and Nvidia] does not support the new requirements..." If it was published, then why not link to it?"
    This was provided by member WiSK on Overclock.net... citing my source since I didn't do the research. Don't worry about this sensationalism...

  • I lack central heating, you insensitive clods!

    I factor my computer usage into my heating and power bill.
    I get a lot more out of my buck by having a few computers on 24/7 instead of using electrical heating which is my only other option.

    The winter is coming, and Norway gets cold, really cold. So I could choose between a heating oven, which doubles as a space eater in a small apartment. Or I could use my computers, and look for aliens via SETI@home while keeping my feet warm by the airstream from my CUDA-heat

  • by AtomicDevice (926814) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @10:32AM (#41669465)

    Measure by joules/floating-point operation, and I bet video cards win hands-down every time over any other kind of computing unit. If you want to perform certain types of calculations (like, I dunno, graphics), a GPU is the most efficient way to do it. Now that's not to say that some GPUs aren't much more efficient that other per op. Especially when you consider the power they use while not cranking out a top-end game, I'm sure the field opens up even more. But measuring a card by total draw is dumb.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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