The university is also installing six Cisco TelePresence teleconference studios. These are the same systems being installed in federal government offices around Australia. As well as being used for teaching, research and administration accross university campuses (and so reducing energy use from travel), this would allow the university and government people to have joint events. The systems could also be used to avoid face-to-face contact during a flu pandemic.
One negative aspect of the university network plans are proposals to use thousands of idle PCs for grid computing. While it might seem tempting to use PCs in unoccupied student labs to run computing intensive tasks, this is a waste of energy and will generate greenhouse gas pollution. Dekstop PCs are not designed to run computation intensive tasks and will use an excessive amount of energy. Instead specially designed servers should be used for this. The best thing to do with a desktop computer when it is not needed is to turn it off to save power.
If UQ wants to be able to use off-peak computing power, it should replace the desktop PCs with Thin Clients: low cost computers with only enough processing power to run the user interface. They then should install central servers to run the user's applications. These servers can then be used for computation intensive tasks when not needed for students in the labs. As well as saving electrical power, this will cost less to purchase.
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