Monday, January 31, 2011

GreenTouch Advances Goal of 1,000-Fold Network Energy Efficiency Boost

The GreenTouch Consortium, a global research initiative dedicated to dramatically improving network energy efficiency, outlined its first set of accomplishments since its founding eight months ago. GreenTouch, which was established by Bell Labs, said that although overall power usage of networks worldwide has increased in absolute terms over the past year, it is encouraged by the industry support given its energy efficiency initiatives, and that the long-term goal of a 1000-fold improvement in efficiency is an achievable target.

In an event held in London, GreenTouch demonstrated a Large-Scale Antenna System proof of concept with the potential for tremendous energy savings thanks to its novel wireless transmission techniques. Such an antenna array, consisting of dozens of individual units, would transmit only one percent of the energy transmitted by a single antenna, for the same quality of service. Instead of broadcasting signals throughout the entire coverage area as other antenna systems typically do, the Large-Scale Antenna System utilizes knowledge of the propagation channels to transmit concentrated beams of information selectively to many users at once. The greater the number of antenna elements deployed, the higher the concentration of the beams and, therefore, the lower the power that any antenna needs to send a given amount of information.

GreenTouch is focusing its efforts in a few key areas: wireline access; core switching and routing; mobile communications; core optical networking and transmission; and services, applications, and energy trends.

Representative projects include:

  • Utilizing energy-efficient electronic integration of packet router functions combined with silicon photonic technologies to minimize losses in electronic interconnections and in the optical and electronic interfaces used in high-speed optical transport networks.

  • Generating energy efficiencies in delivery of high-bandwidth services through a dynamic wavelength capability that can more closely align the energy requirements of a given service with the energy needed to support it.

  • Reducing energy consumption in wireless access networks without compromising coverage by using separate data and signaling networks to facilitate "on-demand" rather than "always on" device functionality.

"When we launched the GreenTouch Consortium last year, we set ambitious goals for ourselves," said Gee Rittenhouse, GreenTouch Consortium chairman and vice president of research at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs. "This initial technology demonstration and the research projects we've undertaken show that GreenTouch is on track to meet its objectives and position us squarely on the cutting edge of sustainable technology development."

A webcast presentation is online.

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