Soon you could be using one fewer cable to keep your computer running.
Ethernet could be a universal power supply
UK firm DSP Design has made a PC that gets electric power via a network cable rather than through a wall socket.
Before now power via a network system has only been used for devices such as wireless access points, CCTV cameras and (Voip) internet telephone handsets.
DSP said it expected their new PC to find uses where it was hard to lay any kind of cable other than computer network cables.
The net-powered PC has come out of a project to create specifications for powering almost any kind of computer hardware through Ethernet cables.
Ethernet is the name given to the most widely used way of connecting computers together into local networks.
Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) works because when data is sent down network cables it is represented by voltages. Some PoE equipment uses spare wires in cables that link computers back to network hubs and pump power down these. Others pump power down the same lines as the data traffic. The current PoE specifications have an upper limit of 15.4 watts.
This is enough for Voip handsets, network hubs, webcams, smart card readers and even video servers but it is far too low for most desktop PCs.
But DSP Design has produced a PC, called the Poet 6000, that draws only 12 watts by replacing a monitor with a flat-panel screen and using low power components.
The Poet 6000 has a touch screen and DSP expects it to be used in kiosks, at trade shows and other places where laying power cables would take too long, be too expensive or too difficult.
Ordinary laptops could also soon be getting their power from network cables as work is starting on specifications for Power Over Ethernet Plus which will be able to deliver 30-35 watts.
Power-Over-Ethernet could end up being a universal power supply for much computer hardware as the cables and connectors for it are the same all over the world. By contrast power sockets and plugs differ by country.