PlayStation & Xbox join UN climate change initiative, PS5 to sip just 0.5W in standby

If you’re worried about the future of our planet, you’ll soon be able to feel a little bit less guilty whenever you pick up a gamepad and start playing video games. Sony, Microsoft, Google, Ubisoft and many more have joined up to a new United Nations gaming climate change initiative, Playing for the Planet.

Sony have gone into most detail so far, discussing how the PlayStation 4’s become more energy efficient over time and how the Suspend-to-RAM feature that lets you put the console into standby has helped reduce the amount of power consumption the hardware has. They reckon they’ve reduced or avoided carbon emissions to the tune of 16 million metric tons through this, and over the next 10 years they hope to have bumped that figure up to one whole Denmark 2017 edition, or 29 million metric tons.

Looking to the future, and the PlayStation 5 will be even more power efficient in a similar Rest mode, which they estimate they will be able to bring all the way down to just 0.5W. That’s impressive, with the original PlayStation 4 able to sit at Rest mode with an active game at around 4W, and this being further reduced to just 1.7W with the latest models, as per Sony’s energy efficiency statement.

By contrast, Microsoft have a lot more to do, with the Xbox One X taking 10W to remain in its ‘Instant on’ mode, according to Anandtech. Microsoft themselves don’t have a spec sheet for power consumption, but that’s substantially higher, and hopefully Project Scarlett’s system and software design can take this more into account.

What they’re focussed on is carbon neutrality for the console manufacture. They’re looking to reduce supply chain emissions by 30% by 2030, and will certify 825,000 Xbox consoles as carbon neutral in a pilot programme.

Across the board, companies are either looking to reduce waste, integrate recycled materials, or simply to include climate change conscious themes into their games. The full list of those committed are Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Google Stadia, Ubisoft, Sports Interactive, Twitch, Niantic, Supercell, Playmob, Rovio, Sybo, Space Ape, Wild Works, Green Man Gaming, Creative Mobile, Reliance Games, iDreamSky, E-Line Media, Strange Loop, Pixelberry and Internet of Elephants.

Update: Clarifying that Sony are talking about “Rest mode” for all figures quoted in this article.

Source: UN via, Sony

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  1. Slightly confusing what’s meant by “standby” mode there.

    The PS4 already only uses 0.2W in what most people would think of as standby mode and Sony seem to be calling “off”. That’s just “waiting for the power button to be pressed and nothing else” mode.

    The 1.7W the latest Pro uses (and presumably this 0.5W the PS5 will use) is “rest mode”. Definitely not called standby mode for legal reasons. Another sensible EU thing, really. Can’t be calling it standby mode when it’s doing all sorts of stuff other than waiting to wake up.

    Half the internet seems to be coming up with the argument “why not just turn it off and save more energy?”, but that might not be quite so simple. Turn it on, wait for a whole load of updates to download using the full power (well, full power when in menus, which is less than in a game)? Or have it quietly download updates using a lot less power in the middle of the night? With potentially quicker downloads at that time of day too. Seems reasonably likely that you’d save more energy in “rest mode” than “off mode”. And then wipe out those savings with an extra half hour of gaming, probably.

    • I’ve clarified it. They’re talking about “Rest mode” with a game suspended for instant resumption only taking 0.5W with the PS5. If I had to guess how they’re doing it, they’re going to dump the RAM contents to the SSD when going into rest mode and then load it back in within a few seconds when turning back on. At the moment, to keep a game suspended, both consoles have to keep the RAM powered so that data isn’t lost. Further internet functionality will then bump up power consumption while the system’s doing that stuff.

  2. From what I’ve read the 0.5W standby mode isn’t standard and needs to be selected by the user, so I wonder what you can’t do compared to the ‘normal’ standby mode?

    • Yes, similar to how the PS4 has varying levels of Rest mode, based on whether network functionality is available or USB charging while in rest mode.

      The latest PS4 Pro revision has 1.7W when it’s just suspending a game, but that’s 6.4W when enabling the other features. I’d expect improvements in full rest mode as well, since the PS4 always loads the USB ports if that feature is enabled, regardless of whether they’re being used or not. That could be made adaptive.

      • So assuming you’re not charging things from the USB ports, it could be saving a whole 1W compared to a PS4.

        Which doesn’t sound like much, but then there’s 100m PS4s about. So 100MW being saved. 876 million kWh every year. Last figures I could quickly find were 10 years old, but that’s as much as 133,000 people in the UK use every year. Or 16,500 people in Iceland. (Seems Iceland uses huge amounts of electricity, but it’s 100% renewable)

        Still leaves the equivalent of over 8000 Icelandic peoples electricity just to power that 0.5W “standby” mode if the PS5 sells as much as the PS4.

  3. Thumbs up, better late than never.

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