Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Letter to ACER

  • Feb 16 / 2012
  • 3
technology

Letter to ACER

From: Robert Pogson

To: ACER Corporate Sustainability Office
cr@acer.com.tw

I have been an observer of developments in information technology for decades and I enjoyed what ACER has done with the netbook and devices using ARM processors. These are areas of IT that fit well with ACER’s sustainability initiatives. Clearly, the world loves small cheap computers so this area also meets ACER’s business model.

When smartphones and tablets using ARM processors and Android software cut deeply into the netbook market, ACER suffered a difficult year financially. Unfortunately, the management of ACER has responded by developing small expensive computers like the ultrabooks.

I recommend that ACER increase consideration of the effects of products in the hands of the end user. It is good to consider ACER’s corporate impact but the products in use have a much larger impact. Clearly, x86/amd64 processors use more silicon and power per unit of productivity. By increasing emphasis on ARM processors, ACER can greatly cut the cost of making products and the cost of energy and the environmental impact of that energy in the hands of end users.

It is time ACER consider increasing production of small cheap computers. The margin on these devices can be increased by using ARM processors and Free Software such as Android/Linux and GNU/Linux. The lower energy consumption, price, size, noise and heat of these products all can be attractive for end users. There are issues of software compatibility but there are many users who use web applications or generic applications. Further, the client device can use Free Software in combination with any software on a server.

I recommend ACER consider offering for sale ARM processors in thin clients and thick clients, not just mobile devices. ACER should also provide powerful terminal servers that can run the software most users run today or Free Software according to needs. A terminal server combined with a few or hundreds of client machines is overall a much lower material and energy-consuming system. Even in the case of a home or small business with just a few personal computers this makes sense. The end user may use only a few watts in the thin clients, a few more in the display and a few more in the server. The server, instead of idling can have a higher duty cycle instead of wasted cycles idling as most PCs do. A fanless thin client is a lower cost of operation, a lower consumption of energy, a smaller size, a quieter device and there is less to recycle at the end of a long life. A single server is a better computing device and easier to maintain than multiple thick clients.

So far, mostly businesses are users of thin clients but even a home with two personal computers could benefit from using this technology. It is nearly perfect for schools. Networking and servers have advanced to the point where performance of thin clients is better than thick clients except for video. The end user can afford more memory and storage and a more powerful processor on a few servers compared to many client machines. Using files cached in memory gives much greater performance than seeking files on a slow hard drive.

I recommend ACER consider using Debian GNU/Linux software on personal computers. This software has increased performance compared to Android/Linux and is already ported to ARM. With such Free Software the end user and ACER do not have to pay for access to Microsoft’s software which offers no more value to end users. The money not spent on licences can increase ACER’s margin and attractiveness to end users.

I hope ACER will find it in the best interests of itself as a business, its customers and Earth to adapt Free Software, thin clients and ARM processors to all kinds of computing devices.

Thank you
Robert Pogson

3 Comments

  1. David

    Mr. Pogson,

    In the last sentence of your third paragraph, it says “Asus” — a different company — instead of Acer.

    Don’t mean to nitpick; I always enjoy your pieces.

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