DRESDEN, Germany Engineers can improve the energy efficiency of communications networks by addressing their relatively low utilization, sometimes even finding performance gains in the process. Those were two of the conclusions from the First International Workshop on Green Communications (GreenComm'09) here.
Mario Baldi, associate professor at Politecnico di Torino in Italy, described a way of synchronizing the forwarding of data packets in the Internet that promises up to ten-fold reductions in energy use. Engineer can build a solution using the GPS system to synchronize events so that packets arrive at routers in a way that minimizes link capacity and router memory requirements, Baldi said.
His paper, dubbed "Time for a greener Internet" was selected as the best paper of the event.
Luca Chiaraviglio, a doctoral student with the Politecnico di Torino, also addressed the issue of low utilization. He described ways to put carrier systems such as cellular base stations to sleep and minimize network over-provisioning.
Some papers showed energy efficient techniques that also boosted system performance.
Mamoun Guenach, scientist at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs in Antwerp, described a way of reducing energy consumption by 25 percent on DSL lines by reducing line power that could also improve spectral coordination and reduce interference. A separate presentation on wireless by Lin Xiao of Queen Mary University of London showed that communication bandwidth increases when energy is saved due to reduced interference.
Other papers described power efficient routers and power amplifiers, case studies of backbone networks and analytical models of WiMax sleep mode. Some showed ways to drive down energy consumption by as much as 90 percent.
Keynoters and speakers agreed engineers need to define new paradigms for designing energy efficient systems.
For example engineers should adopt an information-centric rather than a node-centric approach to design because networks are evolving such that the data is more important than the place where it is stored, said Kostas Pentikousis from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. In addition, management techniques should be included in the network from the start of the design to ensure issues about energy consumption are given a high priority, according to Doug Zuckerman, president of the IEEE Communications Society.
Electronics consume an estimated 290 TWh/year in the US alone, and 19 percent of that can be attributed to communications, said keynoter Bruce Nordman of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and member of the IEEE 802.3az
Energy Efficient Ethernet group. In addition, mobile operators spend three times more on operations than on capital expenses, according to David Lister, research manager at Vodafone R&D, a fact that points to the need for energy savings.
At least 50 people attended the event that was co-located with the IEEE International Conference on Communications here. The technical program committee selected just 14 of the 43 submitted papers.
The second GreenComm workshop will take place at IEEE GlobeCom 2009 in Hawaii.
About the author: Dominique Dudkowski is a research scientist at NEC Europe Ltd. in Heidelberg, Germany, working on energy-efficient communications and network management. He is chair of the technical sessions committee for the GreenComm workshop series.