Bizarro world savings

I was reading a Wired article named, “Why Intel’s Processors Aren’t Big on Cellphones,” when I ran into a peeve that always stops me absolutely dead.

“Atom today is not suitable for cellphones,” acknowledges Kedia. “But Moorestown will deliver the same level of performance as today’s Atom but with a 50x reduction in idle power and a 3x reduction in power when you are playing 720p video.”

The author is indulging in the increasingly common technique of using a mathematical operation that increases a number, called multiplication, to show a reduction. Of course this makes no sense, at least when whole-numbers are involved.

A 50 times reduction in idle power? No sense at all. Let’s say the power-hungry Atom processor uses ten watts at idle. I have no idea what the processor really uses, but I’m just choosing a nice even number. Using multiplication, 10 Watts times 50 is 500 Watts. Where’s the savings part again?

See, the problem is that a 1 times reduction in energy use means you’re using no energy at all. If the processor is using 10 Watts, 1 times 10 Watts is 10 Watts. Using 10 Watts less means using 0 Watts. The logical conclusion is that the processor must therefore generate 490 Watts, which is clearly ridiculous.

I’m guessing the author meant that is uses 1/50 (or 2%) the power, which is a far cry from 50 times less.

This entry was posted in misuse, peeve. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Comments

  1. Shawn
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 07:45 | Permalink

    Keep in mind, Journalists are taught in school how to write and are not educated in the things they are writing about. Most have no clue what they are talking about and are definitely not subject experts. Having subject experts write the articles would make sense, but where is the fun in that?

  2. Posted July 7, 2009 at 21:41 | Permalink

    I love it when you talk math. Tres sexy! LOL!

  3. Jonathan
    Posted July 11, 2009 at 15:33 | Permalink

    I only partially understood this post… maybe like 50 times of it!

    heh

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*
*