When Nvidia developed the Maxwell chips to power their graphics cards they ushered in a whole new era of vegetable-powered computing. The GPU architecture is significantly more power efficient than anything else on the market, driving down the power requirements of computing.
It’s so low in fact, we found you can power an Alienware Alpha on potatoes.
Obviously you’ll need more than one potato:
The Alpha runs a modified version of Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 860M, the Maxwell chip fitted into gaming laptops, which means its power needs are much lower than your desktop. The entry-level Alpha only draws 130W from your power supply.
Still, for this to work, you’re going to need 15 kilos of potatoes, at least. That’s just so you can play Peggle. To play Metro: Last Light you’re looking at around 45 kilos of vegetables.
What you’ll need is:
an alienware alpha
15 kilos of potatoes
a sack of zinc galvanised nails
a spool of wire
And, to be on the safe side, you might want a pair of rubber gloves.
Firstly you’re going to want to insert a galvanised nail in one end of the potato and a 3” length of wire into the other. You need to do this for every potato. These will act as the positive and negative ends of your potato batteries, the cathode and the anode, respectively.
To create a circuit, you need to loop the copper wire from one potato to the zinc nail of the next. Do this with all the potatoes:
The phosphoric acid in the potato causes the zinc to release negatively charged ions. Normally these would bond with hydrogen ions in the potato and create hydrogen gas, but, because the nail’s connected to the positively charged copper, the freed ions are drawn to the positively charged ions in the next potato,
We had to cheat a little and connect a lemon into our circuit to boost the power output:
Now, you’re going to have to be patient with the Alpha, its boot time will be a little slower than normal.
When you do get to the boot screen go straight to Steam Big Picture mode. You only have about 10 minutes of gameplay before the potato lose their charge. To increase your play time the general rule is about 1.5k of potatoes for every minute of play.
And there you have it, a potato-powered PC:
Next week we’ll show you how to power a Raspberry Pi with a raspberry pie: