New GreenTouch innovations to reduce energy consumption in wireline access communications networks by 46 percent
Researchers move home gateway functionalities to the cloud and redesign point-to-point optical transceivers to realize energy gains that translate into taking 1.2 million vehicles off the road
MELBOURNE, Australia, November 18, 2014 – GreenTouch™, the global consortium dedicated to dramatically improving the energy efficiency of data communications networks, today announced two new technology innovations, both significant milestones in network energy conservation. The new technologies will reduce overall energy consumption in wireline access networks by an impressive 46 percent, which translates into a combined energy savings equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 1.2 million passenger vehicles.
The two new technologies developed by GreenTouch researchers are the Virtual Home Gateway, which moves power-hungry residential in-home networking equipment and functionalities to the cloud, and the New Point-to-Point Optical Transceiver, a complete hardware redesign that can leverage adaptive powering algorithms and eclipses the efficiency of equipment currently in use. The new GreenTouch technologies are being demonstrated this week at the GreenTouch consortium’s members meeting in Melbourne, Australia.
“As we approach the final stage of our five-year mission, I am excited to report that the consortium is very much on track and to share more remarkable findings,” said Thierry Van Landegem, chairman, GreenTouch. “We’re proud to unveil the Virtual Home Gateway and Point-to-Point Transceiver projects, which contribute significantly to the consortium’s overall progress toward achieving its goals. These efforts represent the contributions of teams around the world, one project being led by a team in Melbourne and the U.S., and the other by a team in France, reflecting the extraordinary, global nature of GreenTouch collaboration.”
New Point-to-Point Transceiver to enable 30X increase in energy efficiencies
The Point-to-Point Optical Transceiver project, led by a team of researchers from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) at the University of Melbourne and Bell Labs/Alcatel-Lucent, redesigns the point-to-point optical transceiver. The resulting equipment—incorporating a new hardware design and a custom-built, optimized ASIC—will provide a 30-fold increase in energy efficiency compared to today’s state-of-the-art optical transceiver. The new transceiver can be coupled to adaptive powering schemes for further energy efficiency gains. It is expected to save energy costs for Internet Service Providers, and will benefit both businesses and consumers who want a high-capacity, secure and direct fiber connection that is energy efficient. GreenTouch is exploring its use for two applications:
- A point-to-point, high-speed broadband network that will provide secure, low-energy, dedicated service to business
- An energy-efficient, point-to-point network that would be used inside of homes to connect home electronics gear—such as Internet TV and wireless routers—to wired in-house networks.
“The impact of such a single device is quite remarkable,” said Thierry Klein, chairman of the GreenTouch Technical Committee. “For example, when applied to the in-home networking scenario, the new optical transceiver will reduce the overall power consumption of the entire metro access network by 27 percent; this translates to about 4 terawatt hours of electricity saved on an annual basis, equivalent in terms of annual greenhouse gas emissions to taking nearly 600,000 cars off the road.”
Virtual Home Gateway moves in-home networking to the cloud
The Virtual Home Gateway project, led by a team at the Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France, replaces residential in-home gateways—devices used to access dedicated services such as data, voice and TV—with servers in the cloud. Hundreds of thousands of in-home boxes could be replaced by a smaller number of servers. This approach is expected to reduce power consumption in the residential access network by 19 percent, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 833,000 typical households.
“Today, most connected homes rely on in-home boxes. Unfortunately, this equipment is usually always on, 24/7, and consumes a lot of electrical power,” explained Klein. “By virtualizing these devices we save energy and make the services easier to control for network operators. There are also benefits for consumers, who will be able to more easily order new services or make adjustments to their current offerings and experience greater service reliability.”
In addition to “virtualizing” gateways, GreenTouch developed a new, distributed architecture for the servers which allows for even greater improvements to energy efficiencies. This architecture allows service providers to shut down some of the servers during slow times—thereby conserving power—and then only turning servers back on when CPU-intensive services such as deep-packet inspection or bandwidth-intensive activities such as HD streaming are required.
GreenTouch will continue its work on network architectures and technologies to further the consortium’s progress and issue reports through 2015, with its final progress report expected in June 2015.
GreenTouch is a consortium of leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, academic and non-governmental research experts dedicated to fundamentally transforming communications and data networks, including the Internet, and significantly reducing the carbon footprint of ICT devices, platforms and networks. More information can be found at www.greentouch.org and to stay updated follow GreenTouch on Twitter at @Green_Touch.