Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Autodesk Inventor would actually fit on 5 (almost 4) DVDs

Autodesk Inventor 2011 Pro comes in a nice, smallish package. Within the package there are 7 (!) installation DVDs and separate Vault Server and "Fusioin technology Preview" discs. This blog entry is about the 7 DVDs.

What is the cost of making a DVD?

- manufacturing
- managing (it's a part in Autodesk's storehouse, somewhere)
- packaging (actually placing those DVDs inside the enclosure + one extra "page" per each 2/3 DVDs)
- shipping
- landfill

This site says the carbon footprint of a DVD is 1.06 pounds (453gCO2). Maybe that includes the enclosure but that is irrelevant, here.

Why am I writing this?

I was *blown* by having a software install from *7* DVDs. Windows takes only 1 (well, two if you count both 32- and 64-bit versions). So I went to see what's inside the DVDs - or how densely they have been packed. Well, they aren't.

If Autodesk reorganized the way they store file on the DVDs, they would be able to fit everything on 5 DVDs (a 28.5% savings). Why not do that?

Here's the numbers (single-sided DVD capacity is 4.7GB):

Disk 1/7: 3.74 GB used
Disk 2/7: 2.38 GB used
Disk 3/7: 3.05 GB used
Disk 4/7: 1.92 GB used
Disk 5/7: 2.19 GB used
Disk 6/7: 3.44 GB used
Disk 7/7: 2.53 GB used

Total: 19.25 GB used (which makes 4.09 fully filled DVDs)

To Autodesk, this might not be much. Peanuts. And they're probably proud to have such a gigantic installation experience (though in practice it's enough to give 4 of the 7 disks - both 32- and 64-bit versions are included). But where this counts is example. If you can slim something down, it should. So I'm saying they give a baddish example.

What's the footprint of a bit - electrical delivery

What they would be keen to point out is that "subscription" customers get an electrical delivery (download service). Right. Where this is good is that the customers can download only the required pieces (those ca. 4 DVDs worth). That's around 12GB with their filling ratio. But also that has a carbon footprint. Let's see.

For this, we need to consider i.e. delivery from California to Finland (my case). There may be 3-4 (or more) network hops on the way. Some calculations I found only include the server electricity usage but that's wrong. The bits need power to move, even if they'd be sent over fiber optics. So the question becomes: "what is the carbon footprint of sending one bit half-way around the world"?

TBD. If you can find a measurable answer to the above question, pls. make a comment. I did not find it.

But I found this article about energy use of data transmissions, saying:
He notes that some large carriers have energy bills approaching $1 billion.

Clearly, there's a roof to how much bits it's "free of charge" to move around. Someone pays the electricity bills. Internet is not free (for the environement).

Use the cloud

What would be interesting if Autodesk wants to further develop the "subscription" model is to employ peer-to-peer technologies. What this helps with is:
- less burden on their own servers
- faster download speed for customers
- lesser carbon footprint (because data is found closer to where it's needed - i.e. a Finnish customer would get the data from others in Finland)

Maybe they already do something like this, buying cloud services from Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other providers. Good, if they do.

What to do?

In summary, I like the AI2011 offering. I do. And it doesn't feel bloated in use, at all. Which makes it even more essential to make also the installation less bloated. Because it can be. I.e. like this:

- One "joined" (both 32- and 64-bit disk) that is used for starting.
- 2 disks for 32-bit Windows version.
- 2 disks for 64-bit Windows version.

The customer would need to give three disks for any AI2011 install. Looking forward to a slim install in AI 2013. Or maybe a torrent. :)

- Asko Kauppi


akauppi said...

I found some numbers.

To make a really coarse, ball park figure on bit-over-Internet CO2 footprint:

Global IP traffic in 2010: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_traffic)

21380.09 * 10^15 bytes / month
2.5656108 * 10^20 bytes / year

Internet CO2 footprint (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/12/carbon-footprint-internet)

300 million (metric) tons / year
3 * 10^14 gCO2 / year

These figures give a CO2 footprint for transmitting one byte (8 bits) of:

1.169312 ugCO2 / byte (ug = microgram = one millionth of a gram)

Using MB as the unit makes the figures more usable:

1.169312 gCO2 / MB (note: MB is not strictly 10^6 but that does not matter for ball park)

So let's say it's 1 gCO2 / MB transmitted (a global average).

This gives the 12 GB Autodesk Inventor package a CO2 footprint of 12288 gCO2.

That's 12 kilos.

Compared to 7 DVD's making up 3171gCO2 (3 kilos). Including their transport.

Angela Simoes said...

Hi Asko, Thanks for the feedback in your blog post. You may find this article on the footprint of US software download interesting http://autode.sk/fiMuic. Autodesk continues to evaluate the most efficient and sustainable way to deliver our software to customers around the world. Stay tuned!

akauppi said...

Thanks for the link, Angela.

I'm glad Autodesk is looking into this. The WSP study most likely is more precise than my rough estimates, but I do have some counter-arguments / criticism:

- The study was on "AutoCAD software". Mine on Inventor 2011.

- The study was for U.S. delivery. Mine was for global delivery (will raise both CO2 loads but which one more?).

- Most likely, only one download was considered. What if the user installs on two separate machines, or needs to do a full reinstall? Not a problem with physical media. I've installed twice now from the Inventor disks I've got.

Obviously, download is preferred to Autodesk and I can understand that. I do hope you're making it the smart way - that is using cloud services such that the transfers are distributed (and their energy needs become minimal).

Also, I think Autodesk could simply say you prefer download for other reasons as well (easier, more scalable for you, and getting people to the subscription model). Be honest. If it also is the ecologically best approach, so be it. :)

Anonymous said...

Starting 2012 suites, Autodesk has gone to using thumb drives. **applauds**

See feedback on here: http://designandmotion.net/autodesk/autodesk-design-suite-install/