The question of equipment production and IT energy consumption are key issues in terms of energy transition. Explanations by Axelle Ziegler, Managing Director of SUPINFO IT school (IONIS Group).
” We talk very little about this topic which I think is the most important in the order of magnitude. “said Axelle Ziegler. On this theme, there is consensus on the issues: we should produce less material. The only solution so far to achieve this goal: succeed in extending the life of equipment by fighting planned obsolescence, improving the repairability of products and relying on service providers to increase support hours.
” Raising awareness and training users is also important, commented the Director General of SUPINFO. In order not to throw away your phone after two years because it is slower, you should know that a phone will gain performance when you reset it and when you delete a certain number of parasitic data that damage the adjustment. of the system. It is important to remember that computer equipment breaks down less physically than we think and it is possible to extend its life by maintaining it regularly. »
The challenge is to encourage users to better maintain their equipment and have better knowledge of the software they use. This problem also concerns students. “ Twenty years ago, all computer science students dismantled their computer, configured a network, installed an operating system, changed a part of their computer itself. Today, it concerns less than 10% of students said Axelle Ziegler.
Microsoft, Apple and Google have a role to play “Success in extending the lifespan of hardware requires that people master the ecosystem of these devices, as well as service and software providers commit to continuous supporting older hardware,” warns Axelle Ziegler. Players like Microsoft, Apple, Google (Alphabet) and, to a lesser extent, Meta must empower users to understand this ecosystem and configure their devices.
” We raise the awareness of our students throughout their course and we encourage them to keep their computers, but this education and this awareness must go beyond the population of computer scientists. We regularly organize “Tech Time” workshops where we invite middle and high school students to show them the state of the art of computing through discovery and practice. »
Energy impact of global IT: what are we talking about?
If we consider the consumption of all data centers in the world, the raw numbers are dizzying. But this figure must be put into perspective because data centers are not directly used by a large portion of the world’s population. Unlike aviation, for example, which affects only a few percent of the world’s population and the impact on the climate relative to the number of users is enormous. ” In total, Axelle Ziegler pointed out, the impact of digital is clearly high, but it concerns about 93% of the population in a country like France and about 57% in the world. Comparing these raw figures is therefore meaningless and the difference is not that significant between the ecological impact of the smallest and largest computer users. »
Usage limits, the miracle solution?
Is the commandment that we must clean out our mailboxes and stream in low definition appropriate?
“The best advice for reducing our impact on the environment is to change your equipment as little as possible (phone, computer, tablet, etc.), confirmed the General Manager of SUPINFO. It is very important that IT specialists are responsible for limiting the impact on the environment and therefore the consumption of goods. We should teach students, when trying a solution, to favor the one that consumes the least amount of resources. The goal is quite holy because this solution often turns out to be the least expensive. »
Corporate responsibility for optimization
We have commonly heard in recent years the idea that people’s working time is expensive unlike machines’ working time, and therefore it is better not to optimize the code and let the machines warm up . ” Computing must leave this culture entirely, warns Axelle Ziegler. It should be considered that the working time of people dedicated to optimizing the code is less machine production time and therefore less energy is consumed, as is the time spent on compatibility with previous versions . »
More effectively than any form of moralizing discourse, the energy crisis will push this paradigm shift into a forced march. The price of energy is likely to rise to such proportions that code optimization will become an economic stake beyond the underlying ecological stake. For Axelle Ziegler, “ the individual impact of users’ digital consumption, aside from replacing computers, phones and printers, is negligible. On the other hand, companies are tasked with optimization and maintenance. If the dizzying increase in the cost of energy promotes corporate responsibility on these issues, this awareness needs to continue if the cost of energy is to decrease.