In recent weeks there have been several articles on the best and least known features of Apple's new operating system, Snow Leopard. From Quicktime's ability to record and edit audio, video, and screencasts, to its Exchange support, to the small but pleasing ability to minimize documents to their respective app icons in the dock (rather then to the side of the dock in a messy jumble) there has been a lot covered.
But perhaps the best and least heralded feature of Snow Leopard is what it's missing: 10% of its energy use, compared to its predecessor, Leopard.
Among the factors contributing to that are Snow Leopard's fuller use of 64-bit technology, which according to CNET, "…allows application developers to allocate more memory to complete tasks so that the software runs faster and more smoothly."
What does this mean?
For you as a user, it means things like their iChat application using a third of the memory it did in Leopard, allowing for more robust interactions including slide presentations, without either excessively taxing the computer or crashing the application.
But there's a broader, bigger implication here: 10% energy savings per computer, added up across a company, across the millions who will buy this operating system, is going to mean a huge impact, both on cost savings and resources needed. And when unplugged, the resulting increased battery life will mean both longer usefulness per charge and less frequent replacements of the battery.
According to Environmental Leader, "Considering Apple’s annual sales of about 10 million computers, the savings will translate to more than 80 million kWh a year, or nearly $10 million in electricity, calculated against a power systems review of the new operating system from CNET."
So, set aside your qualms about whether Snow Leopard counts as a true update or merely a service pack, Snow Leopard will both make your Mac a more efficient ally to what you're working on, and how much energy you consume doing it. Now if Apple could fix its packaging issues when buying it from them online, this would be a real home run.
Readers: What's been your experience with Snow Leopard? Anything you've discovered we should know about? What other examples of "green coding" have you seen out there recently, or have in development?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, blogs weekly on green start ups of note at Triple Pundit and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.