IBM releases energy-saving ThinkPad

IBM Japan has unveiled a new ThinkPad notebook computer that can automatically shift its power source from an AC adapter to a...

IBM Japan has unveiled a new ThinkPad notebook computer that can automatically shift its power source from an AC adapter to a stored battery.

The ThinkPad R31 includes a peak shift control program that allows electricity to be used evenly throughout on-peak and off-peak times. With the ThinkPad R31, users can set a time for the computer to switch its power source to an internal battery, which has been recharged during off-peak hours, said Yuko Takeuchi, a spokeswoman for IBM Japan.

The Think Pad R31 is the first result of a joint development project between IBM Japan, Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO), Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), Sanyo and Matsushita.

The purpose of the project was to decrease the volume of electricity used for PCs in offices at peak time.

During the summer in Japan, many offices switch on air conditioners in the afternoon, causing a dramatic increase in electricity consumption. Power companies have been looking for ways to avoid these peaks.

From July to September last year, IBM Japan, KEPCO, and TEPCO conducted a trial using the peak shift control program on their PCs. The trial showed that by charging the PC battery at night when demand is low, and using that stored power during the day, companies were able to decrease carbon dioxide production by up to 16%.

IBM Japan calculated that if the 1,200 notebook PCs in its Tokyo headquarters are equipped with the peak shift-control program, it could save ¥20,000 (£105) a year, the statement said.

Sanyo and Matsushita have been researching the effects on a battery of being repeatedly discharged and recharged, and will keep working on a longer-lasting battery, the statement said. Currently, the ThinkPad R31 can be used for 2.3 hours by a recharged battery. Once the battery runs out it automatically starts recharging again, Takeuchi said.

Out of the 12 new ThinkPad R31 models, the C5J and 48J include the peak-shift-control program. Both include a Celeron 1.06GHz processor, 128Mbytes of SDRAM, a 20Gbyte hard drive, and are equipped with an Ethernet interface.

The peak shift control program is currently only available in Japan.

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