AMD’s graphics and computing technologies power a variety of devices including PCs, game consoles and the powerful computers and servers that drive the internet and support businesses. As part of our design efforts, AMD strives to provide products that help our customers address modern computing workloads while minimizing environmental impacts.
Designing a semiconductor product that can contribute to society and has a reduced environmental impact requires consideration of many issues including:
AMD is dedicated to innovation in low power and energy-efficient computing, demonstrating this commitment through our product designs and sustainable business operations. We also work with other organizations that are dedicated to our vision of reducing energy use and making computing more environmentally friendly. These include industry partners, governments, nonprofit standards bodies and research institutions.
Read more about AMD’s work with The Green Grid, EPEAT® and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Energy Star® program and its analogs around the world in the Public Policy section of our 2011 Corporate Responsibility report.
Datacenters power the internet and most of the networked computing that supports the global economy. The cost, availability and environmental impacts of generating the energy needed to run those datacenters are important factors in the ultimate cost of the global digital economy. Reducing energy use for data centers is a priority for AMD and others in the computing industry. AMD has teamed up with Clarkson University, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), HP and other organizations on a research project to address the industry-wide challenge of channeling renewable energy directly to data centers.
Developed by AMD’s External Research Office, the project, which is still in the early stages, seeks to build a distributed computing network using renewable energy resources. The goal is to co-locate dynamic energy sources such as wind and solar, which do not rely on large-scale, traditional electrical grid-tied systems, with containerized data centers such as HP’s Performance Optimized Datacenter (POD).
Instead of transmitting energy to a centralized data center, the arrangement requires the movement of data using fiber optic lines to locations where alternative energy is actively being generated. This model can creates considerable cost efficiencies by replacing expensive electrical transmission lines to transport electricity with less expensive fiber optic lines to transport data. Co-location with renewable energy sources also can provides environmental benefits by reducing the carbon emissions associated with traditional energy generation.
The project is entering the research phase (as of March 2012); students at Clarkson University have begun experimentation on effectively managing data through a distributed network based on renewable energy. The second phase of the project will be to optimize the hardware elements for energy efficiency and cloud computing, including HP’s POD fully integrated with HP ProLiant servers using the AMD Opteron™ processor.
Concerns over climate change and rising energy costs have increased awareness of, and demand for, energy-efficient IT. Our processors influence the power consumption, and thus the GHG emissions, associated with the use of a broad range of technology products.
AMD APUs (Accelerated Processing Units)
In 2011, AMD launched a new class of processor, the AMD APUs (Accelerated Processing Units). The APU is a single chip that integrates multi-core central processing unit (CPU), discrete-level graphics with a parallel processing engine, a dedicated high-definition video acceleration block and a high-speed bus that moves data across the differing types of processor cores. New power savings features include AMD AllDay™ power designed to extend notebook battery life. AMD APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) also enable developers to take advantage of the parallel processing power available in a graphics processing unit (GPU). The use of GPUs to perform computing applications such as multimedia, productivity and simulations helps applications run faster and simultaneously, allowing PCs to transition to lower power idle/sleep/off states for longer periods of time.
Energy efficiency continues to be an important design consideration for multi-core AMD Opteron™ processors for servers. AMD’s current 16-core AMD Opteron™ processors draw about the same power as the previous generation quad-core processors but provide greater performance. In addition, the AMD Opteron™ 6200 Series processor’s high core counts enable AMD-based servers to run up to 16 virtual machines (VMs) per processor (assuming one VM per core), which helps reduce floor space, lower power costs and improve server management.
Power-saving features—AMD Opteron™ processors incorporate power management technology that is designed to address the energy efficiency needs of data centers, ranging from cloud computing environments to HPC. This includes AMD-P technology, a suite of advanced features that can help significantly reduce energy usage by keeping processor power consumption down when all of the processor logic is not required by a given workload.
Cloud Computing—AMD server technology supports a variety of data center workloads, including virtualization, web/cloud, IT infrastructure, database, HPC and email/collaboration. In cloud computing environments, peak workload periods must be handled efficiently, and power consumption should be reduced during low utilization periods. Multi-core AMD Opteron™ processors incorporate enhanced AMD Virtualization™ (AMD-V™) technology with power management features to address these needs, helping cloud data center operators perform server consolidation, increase utilization rates and reduce overall power and cooling requirements. To date, more than two million AMD processors have been utilized in cloud computing.
AMD also implements power management features in our graphics processors. For example, AMD PowerPlay™ technology manages graphics power states (voltage and frequency) based on active workloads, allowing the GPU to function in the lowest possible power state for a given computing requirement. AMD ZeroCore Power Technology shuts down the GPU when the computer enters long idle periods, which can enable greater than 95% reduction in power consumption during this state. More information about AMD’s approach to power efficiency in our graphics products can be found on our blog page.
For more information about AMD’s work on promoting energy efficiency in our products, please see the Public Policy section of our 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report
Semiconductor products are small in size but incorporate materials that can potentially be hazardous. Outlined below are some of the actions we have taken to comply with material restrictions established by both regulatory and customer requirements.
Lead in electronic products has been restricted by regulation in a number of countries over the past several years. AMD began formulating a strategy to address lead and other substances of concern more than 10 years ago, and now offers products that are compliant with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electronics requirements of the European Union (EU), China and others. Lead is still in use in some limited applications that are exempted by regulations. In these applications, AMD continues to research no-lead alternatives. View our RoHS Compliance Statement on our website.
Halogens refer to a class of chemical compounds containing one or more elements in the halogen family (such as chlorine or bromine). Some materials containing halogens have been linked to environmental and health concerns by some stakeholders. In response, AMD has developed a strategy to identify halogen-free alternatives for existing materials in our products. Beginning in early 2009, AMD introduced new microprocessor and graphics products that are “Halogen-Free.”1
Since the transfer of our wafer manufacturing assets in 2009, much of the compliance requirements for EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemical substances (REACH) regulation are now in our supply chain. Nevertheless, AMD continues to track developments and collaborate with our supplier partners in order to address REACH requirements. For example, AMD issued a supplier specification requiring the identification and restriction of chemicals that are regulated under REACH, including phthalate compounds and other substances recently identified for phase-out under Annex XIV of the regulation.
Information on our actions in this area is outlined in the Supplier Responsibility
Efficient use of natural resources in products and during the manufacturing of products is a key aspect of sustainable product design. The resource efficiency of IT products can be improved by making products smaller, and by integrating more functions into one device.
AMD’s newest class of processor, the AMD family of APUs, incorporates three chips that were previously manufactured separately (a CPU, GPU and Northbridge chipset) into a single die (chip) design. This combination of an integrated design, as well as a greater than threefold reduction in overall product volume, results in less resources needed from material extraction and manufacturing, as well as less material to recycle or dispose at the end of the product’s useful life.
End of Life Extension
AMD products can also help extend the life of computing platforms, thus reducing electronic waste. For example, AMD Opteron™ platforms utilize a common architecture and chipset as our older generation products. This means that processor upgrades can occur while avoiding hardware replacements and the associated waste. AMD Extended Migration is a hardware feature that enables virtualization software vendors to provide live migration capabilities between systems with different generations of AMD Opteron™ processors.
Packaging can refer to the materials used to ship our product as well as the protective coating around a semiconductor chip. The focus of this section is on materials used for shipping and handling our products.
AMD specifies the packing materials used for our products, including recyclability of materials and use of recycled content. Our packaging designers continuously seek out environmentally preferable packing materials and methods to minimize packing that meet our needs for product protection, cost, material properties and compliance with industry standards.
In 2011, AMD moved from unique packaging for our 4-core and 6-core products to a universal box design that could be used for both products, with specific product information included on labels. This helped increase operational flexibility and reduce costs. We also increased the recycled content of our APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) product packaging from 10% up to a maximum of 40% with the use of clay-coated news back2 (CCNB). For all other products, we use unbleached cardboard boxes. AMD no longer uses PVC in any of our packing materials.
As part of our continued research on alternative packaging material, we recently evaluated the use of bamboo and continue to research alternative, cost-effective solutions. We have also established requirements to limit the presence of certain heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium. In addition, our packaging requirements include marking plastic parts with the appropriate SPI (Society of the Plastics Industry) International Resin Codes for recycling, and using water-based inks and dyes.
AMD ships products to our customers in trays that can be reclaimed for reuse and then recycled when no longer usable. In 2011, we reused approximately 214 tons of trays and recycled about 29 tons – effectively giving these materials a new useful life and keeping them out of landfills.
In 2008, AMD started the transition from wooden pallets to plastic pallets for product transportation because plastic pallets are more readily reused and recycled. Today, plastic pallets account for more than 70% of the total number of the pallets used. In 2011, the use of the lighter plastic pallets resulted in an approximate reduction of 2703 tons CO2 and an estimated freight cost savings of $166,000. AMD also reused more than 9,200 of these plastic pallets (total weight of about 32.5 tons in 2011.