back to article Console makers game the EU Commission to avoid energy-use law

Games console manufacturers have agreed a deal with the European Commission that lets them off the hook for meaningful rules on energy efficiency. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have persuaded the Commish not to include their products in the EcoDesign Directive and to instead rely on a voluntary agreement. Although the …

  1. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One consume two to three times more

    Well, 1920 x 1080 (HD) is 6.75 times 640 x 480 (USA SD resolution).

    So they are actually improving.

    Most of these Energy Directives are nutty. Like Energy ratings of a Toaster, Kettle, table top grill or Electric fire.

    1. Rimpel

      Re: the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One consume two to three times more

      the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One consume two to three times more annual energy than the most recent models of their predecessors”.

      Which supported 1080p. So they are actually getting worse by two to three times.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One consume two to three times more

        No they didn't. Even the latest generation can't really handle 1080p generally more like 960 at 30fps.

      2. Paul Shirley

        @Rimpel

        Supporting 1080p and actually being able to deliver it are very different. There are very few true 1080 last gen games and many 720p ones actually render at lower res then upscale to 720.

        Halo3 is a typical example, XB360 renders 1152x640@30fps vs XB1 1920x1080@60fps. That's 5.625x more pixels for 2-3x the power draw. Better power consumption would be nice but its not getting worse.

  2. localzuk

    They are computers

    Capping the power usage of a computer is a stupid idea, and I'm a hippy green loving environmentalist.

    The only thing that happens if you cap power usage of such a device is the functionality will not be as good. Ok, yes, CPUs and GPUs are regularly being released with new capabilities at lower energy ratings, but these things take time to be developed and to reach the market. The legislative machine moves even slower than that though. They've been negotiating this agreement for 6 years! In that time, there have been, what, 3 generations of Intel CPUs?

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: They are computers

      IMHO I would disagree. Several decades ago when I began my computing career, hardware changed infrequently. Developers countered this by being more and more creative, and rising to the challenge by optimising their coding. Nowadays developers have got lazy, and expect speed-ups to come from ever more powerful hardware.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: hardware changed infrequently

        WTF ?

        Several decades ago I was upgrading my PC every year, and it was worth it. I was benchmarking my rig every time, just to see how much better it had become.

        Since 2009 I have made 2 upgrades. I don't bother benchmarking any more, an improvement of 5-6fps is not noticeable. What is noticeable is the comfort that 32GB of DDR3 RAM brings, along with two 180GB SSDs.

        The only lazyness that developers have grown into concerns resources. Back then they needed 512KB of RAM because gaming was as demanding as anything else when you have next to nothing. These days, they expect you to have 16GB of DDR3 because hey, it's not expensive.

      2. localzuk

        Re: They are computers

        Developers have not got lazy. They have to do a heck of a lot more with the equipment now than they used to, and support devices from all over the place. Gone are the days of producing text based games using VESA drivers etc...

        The amount of work that's needed to produce the giant games of today is phenomenal. To say the developers are lazy is to ignore the needs of a game that will sell well.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: They are computers

          > Developers countered this by being more and more creative, and rising to the challenge by optimising their coding.

          Nowadays, the game developers tend to use an off-the-shelf game engine, or an existing in-house game engine, so they aren't in the position to tweak it as much. However, game engines and drivers (and the line between them is blurring) do improve a bit over time.

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: They are computers

        Developers countered this by being more and more creative, and rising to the challenge by optimising their coding.

        The Time Lord presents the PORTAL TO PROBLEMS FROM THE 80s.

        Nowadays developers have got lazy, and expect speed-ups to come from ever more powerful hardware.

        Someone around here also expects solutions from the 80s to tales of performance woe. Not noticing that what has been happening the last 10 years is a move to more processing units, not "more powerful hardware"?

        Seriously, gramps.

    2. h3

      Re: They are computers

      Not true.

      If they were forced to use Intel's 22nm process then they would have been able to do the same thing using less power.

      (Intel having some competition is a different thing and probably necessary but forcing it onto a better process would have benefited all say MS & Sony paying some of the fab costs for AMD would have been ideal)

      Could have got the same GPU performance using more lower performance ones.

      They didn't do it because of cost. (And it shows cheap / nasty and noisy).

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: They are computers

      My non-gaming but not-cheap but certainly-no-longer-top-of-the-line laptop laughed at GTA V in it's native LCD resolution. Have you seen that game, it's gorgeous?

      If a laptop with a 90W power supply (which isn't fully used, and yet the laptop has two spinning disks, screen, USB peripherals, wireless, bluetooth, fan, GPU, multi-core CPU, etc.) can do it, a huge desktop machine shouldn't be nearly 5 times as bad (the base gaming PSU is considered to be around 450-500W. Some of the graphics cards on PC's take MORE than my entire laptop sucks. And the performance advantage is no longer that huge.

      And my laptop is a model several years old already. God knows what top-of-the-line gets you on laptops nowadays. I'm scared to imagine. The 1000 games on my Steam account "just work" and the laptop is on almost 24 hours a day even when I'm on holiday for work, leisure, browsing, gaming, travel, etc..

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: They are computers

        "a huge desktop machine shouldn't be nearly 5 times as bad (the base gaming PSU is considered to be around 450-500W"

        But like your laptop Power brick the power supply won't be fully used but unlike desktop machines your laptop power supply doesn't have an 80 Plus rating. I would like laptop PSU's to have such a rating but its not going to happen and may actually be very wasteful.

        GTA V seems amazingly optimised I haven't seen any machine have any issues running it at all although everyone I know who has it has at least a discreet graphics card rather than relying on the embedded stuff.

  3. Ian Thomas
    FAIL

    "the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One consume two to three times more annual energy than the most recent models of their predecessors"

    That's hardly a fair comparison, chip technology has moved on but the games they are required to play haven't. For a meaningful comparison you need to look at each console at the same stage in its lifecycle.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone familiar with low power design will understand that the important figure is energy and not power and if something uses twice as much power but does is job three times faster then that may well be a good trade off. So for gaming the EU clearly need to address the energy = power x time issue and reduce energy usage by legislating to make games easier so they are completed faster and this consume less energy even on modern high power consoles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So - does that mean that the Order was so short because it was environmentally conscious?

  5. eJ2095

    Does that mean

    i will have to wang an extra 50p in the meter when i want to use me ps4...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong argument

    "the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One consume two to three times more annual energy than the most recent models of their predecessors".

    I used to work for one of the platform manufacturer mentionned above.

    It is normal a new model consume les than their MOST RECENT PREDECESSORS, because when the PS3/Xbox360/Wii were launched, it represented the best of the technology Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo could offer at the time.

    Then, for each iteration, sometimes sublte that you don't see or see (like a slim version), the manufacturer scrap whatever they can from the hardware.

    Reducing the number of transistors reduces cpu (or others) yields at manufacturing, but it also reduces how much heat you need to dissipate, therefore the fan, therefore the size, therefore the packaging, so you can ship more in an airplane, etc.

    It's not really something you should compare if you wanted to be fair.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Wrong argument

      Reducing the number of transistors

      You seriously were "work for one of the platform manufacturer" and actually believe transistor count went down?

      Waste heat reduction comes from voltage reduction, skilled quieting of unneeded electronic elements or smaller transistors.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just wondering...

    ...what are we saving this energy for?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Just wondering...

      "...what are we saving this energy for?"

      Patio heaters.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Just wondering...

      So power companies can be lazy and continue operating old, inefficient, and pollution-belching plants rather than upgrade to cleaner, and much safer, modern plants.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Just wondering...

        cleaner, and much safer, modern plants

        Unfortunately Areva has trouble building those PWR 2nd generation euronukes and NIMBYs freak out whenever the hear the clang of Uranium in their neighborhoods.

  9. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

    My tumble dryer appears to have voluntarily started saving energy too, by putting barely any heat in

  10. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Low power standby mode?

    Whatever happened to the 'off' button?

    Does'nt consume any power then

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Low power standby mode?

      Old hat.

      Now if the machine doesn't boot up in a microsecond, instantly resuming your high-end 3D game, on a voice command given among a stream of consciousness throughout the day, it's not "the thing to have".

      Let's not even get into the bluetooth / wireless controllers waking from sleep, the system updates in the background, the media player functionality offered out to the local network, etc.

      Nothing turns off nowadays. Which is more worrying than anything.

  11. James 51 Silver badge

    One of the reasons why I am waiting for the first redesign to buy a new console. Had a release 360 that could heat a room all by itself. Plus hopefully they're'll be enough new games worth playing.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mind your own business

    Where the hell do these people get off telling engineers how to do their jobs?

    I doubt many of them could even define a Watt, Ohm or Volt.

    As a designer of mobile systems, I'm very aware of power usage, and I resent the implication that we're lazy in that respect.

    But seeing as these politicians are of the management school that more can be done with less, let's cut their salaries back by 2 to 3 times and see their performance increases in terms of magnitude that they believe are possible.

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