What is a Green Motherboard?

Kurt Inman

A green motherboard is an environmentally-friendly motherboard. There are a number of different ways in which a motherboard can be considered green. It can be produced with a less environmentally harmful manufacturing process and made out of less harmful materials. It can also consume less electrical power at both idle and full speed. Once it has reached end of life, a green motherboard will usually be less harmful to recycle as well, having been created with less harmful materials.

A computer motherboard.
A computer motherboard.

Many green motherboard manufacturers follow the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) standard. This directive limits the use of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and certain polybrominated flame retardants in electronic equipment. On motherboards in particular, lead has been used in the solder used to attach computer parts to the board, in the component leads themselves, and in printed circuit board traces. Some manufacturers also adhere to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which mandates ecologically-friendly collection and refurbishment or disposal for their electronic goods.

A green motherboard is environmentally friendly, using less harmful materials and consuming less power at idle or full speed.
A green motherboard is environmentally friendly, using less harmful materials and consuming less power at idle or full speed.

Most motherboards meet some level of ENERGY STAR® power consumption requirements, set forth by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A green motherboard typically meets or exceeds the very latest specification. Some of these motherboards conserve power by utilizing low-voltage processors made of smaller transistors and different materials, which significantly reduces power use—especially at idle—while providing better performance. Some processors can also decrease their power consumption while they are performing less demanding tasks. Most motherboards also include intelligent power management circuitry which turns off the video, Ethernet, and hard drive as well as other devices and their controllers while they are not being used.

A green motherboard may also include a specialized processor which is dedicated to energy management, monitoring and distributing power efficiently according to a constantly varying load. At least one manufacturer has introduced motherboards with network interfaces that are compatible with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) standard. This allows such a system to temporarily, yet drastically, reduce power consumption when it has detected little activity on either side of an Ethernet connection.

A green motherboard is a critical component of a green computer. The combination of a power-efficient motherboard, hard drive, video display, memory, power supply and external components, makes an ideal green system. While every individual user of a green computer is contributing to the health of the environment, it becomes even more important for data centers containing thousands of identical systems to fully utilize green technology wherever possible.

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