Monday, October 26, 2009

Verizon Requires Thermal Modeling for New Network Hardware

Verizon will begin requiring hardware manufacturers to use thermal modeling when designing circuit boards and cabinets used in network gear. The goal is to minimize heat generation that impairs equipment performance and requires costly air conditioning in central offices, equipment vaults and other facilities.

"When you optimize efficiency at the simplest level, you go to the heart of the process," said Chuck Graff, Verizon director of corporate network and technology. "Starting in July 2010, equipment makers will be required to submit results of thermal modeling applied to their hardware that show they have optimized their circuits to generate less heat and perform more efficiently."

Verizon published the new technical purchasing requirement this week as part of its 15th annual NEBS conference. Thermal modeling involves using a computer to simulate the heat flow around electrical components in equipment such as circuit boards, before the equipment is built. This enables the equipment to be designed in a way that minimizes heat generation and thus improves energy efficiency, and saves time and costs.

The new Technical Purchasing Requirement outlines the goal of the testing program, details test procedures to be conducted, and establishes a process for review of the results and approval of the equipment design. The new testing requirement leverages powerful computational fluid dynamics computer tools that simulate circuit board and equipment design and the air and heat flow around components prior to the creation of a prototype, to maximize the energy efficiency of the design. The benefits to Verizon are cooler operating temperatures, faster deployment because thermal issues are addressed earlier in the process, and lower costs for air conditioning.

In his report to the conference, Graff noted that Verizon operates in 150 countries, occupies 31,000 facilities worldwide, maintains a 53,000-vehicle fleet and consumed 9.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 59 million gallons of fuel in 2008. During that year, the company reduced its carbon emissions by 303,000 metric tons.

"The new thermal-management requirements are actually a process for helping the equipment makers meet the 20 percent improvement goal, which then helps Verizon reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint significantly," Graff said. "Circuit boards can work fine when they are generating more heat than necessary, but they work better and save operating costs when you pay attention to heat issues up front. That's the goal here."

  • In January, Verizon implemented purchasing rules requiring that new equipment purchased for deployment in the company's networks operate at a level 20 percent more efficient than the equipment it replaces.