According to an article in The Guardian in the UK, NEC and Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new microchip that could prevent energy loss when electronic devices are left in standby mode. So a TV left on standby could use no power at all.
Normally, devices left on standby require circuits to be continually energised for a quick start. While this uses little power, with the multiple devices in use in most homes these days the total can mount up to as much as 10% of total home electricity use.
The new memory chip works by using small magnets, rather than electricity, to retain the data needed for a fast restart. So devices could be left on standby but restart instantly.
Prof. Naoki Kasai of Tohoku University pointed out that one scenario for significant savings is in data centres, where servers need to be quickly available at all times. Apparently the technology could cut data centre power consumption by around 25%.
Other articles suggest that the technology could be available by 2015 and it certainly could have a dramatic impact. Virtually every electronic device in the home now seems to have some sort of standby mode, wasting power. And most devices are left on standby because of the convenient, fast restart. There have been calls to do away with standby altogether on electronic devices because of the wasted power, but a better solution would be to retain standby but without the power use.
The impact in the data centre could be even more dramatic. Slow restart is a real hindrance to putting servers into a low-power mode - it’s why PC power management software, which could often work equally well on servers, is not deployed in the data centre. Instant restart would make hibernating servers a much more viable option.