Monday, May 13, 2013

GreenTouch: 90% Reduction in Network Energy Consumption by 2020

The goal of a 90% reduction in network energy consumption by 2020 compared to a 2010 baseline is achievable, according to a new study published by the GreenTouch Consortium, a global research initiative dedicated to dramatically improving network energy efficiency.  This remarkable cut in electricity can be achieved while accounting for the dramatic increase in network traffic over this same decade.

GreenTouch said its study applied advanced modeling to better understand potential network operations in 2020 in comparison to those in 2010.

Key findings include:

  • Mobile networks stand to benefit the most from energy efficiency efforts, as they are the most inefficient and yet the fastest growing networks in terms of data volumes.
  • Mobile networks could realize potential energy efficiency improvements of up to 1043 times.
  • Energy efficiencies in fixed-line and core networks are also expected, but will be less dramatic. The modeling shows potential improvements in fixed access networks of 449 times and improvements in the core network of 95 times. Core networks are already relatively energy-efficient, so further gains will be less significant and much harder to achieve than with mobile networks.

Some of the key technologies that could deliver the biggest efficiency gains include:

  • Infrastructure sharing by mobile network operators.
  • Small cell deployments in cities.  Less energy is needed to transmit data over shorter distances.
  • Discontinuous transmission during periods without traffic.
  • Bit interleaved passive optical networking (Bi-PON), a new protocol that would use TDM to more efficiently move packets to their intended destination.
  • Dynamic allocation of resources in the network core to diurnal traffic fluctuations.
  • Power models for energy efficient hardware and network equipment.  Gains from Moore's Law.

Additional technologies that could add even further gains beyond those calculated by this study include the separation of the control plane from the data plane, and further optimization of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

“We are extremely proud of the progress we’ve made in our first three years, yet there is still much more we can do to improve efficiencies and effectively reinvent technologies in the name of environmental stewardship,” said Thierry Van Landegem, chairman, GreenTouch. “Reducing energy by 90 percent is conservative as we have many projects underway whose effects were not taken into account in that number.”

The GreenTouch Consortium, which was founded in 2010, has grown to include a wide range of participants, spanning the research community, academia, global service providers and networking equipment vendors.