As service providers see exploding network demand far outpacing growth in revenues and profits, they seek to reduce their cost "per bit" to support bottom lines, driving intensified focus on energy efficiency. Carrier power requirements can't sustainably grow at 30% or more annually, as bandwidth is projected to grow. Power is a particularly pivotal factor in the costs of data centers, booming in size and importance.
As reducing power consumption has become increasingly critical for carriers, carrier Ethernet switch router (CESR) equipment vendors have introduced multiple varied techniques to improve energy efficiency.
Improving silicon technology is the biggest single factor in enhancing energy efficiency sector-wide. Other major contributors include: more focused "purpose-building" of equipment; more efficient cooling systems, both active and passive; and greater component integration, particularly championed by CESR market leader Cisco, among others.
In addition, the IEEE's energy-efficient Ethernet (EEE) standard, which is being increasingly built into equipment, powers transmitters down when data is not being sent.
European and Asia-Pacific service providers seem to give generally greater priority to energy efficiency than North American players, due partly to generally higher power costs and stronger publicly mandated environmental requirements in Europe and Asia.
Overall energy efficiency, as measured in "watts per bit," has generally improved by more than 30% during the past two years, based on equipment vendor estimates that project similar improvement levels over the next two years.
Larger platforms typically use much more electric power to start but also make much more dramatic strides in power reduction through, for example, modifications in switch fabric design and line-card interactivity. Smaller access routers use less power but typically lend themselves less to large-scale modification.
Improving energy efficiency, meanwhile, typically contributes to device size reduction and other economies for vendors. Improving device performance and density, for example, reduces total cost of ownership (TCO) at the same time it improves energy efficiency.
According to the newest Heavy Reading Insider, "CESR Vendors Target Energy Efficiency Worldwide," ongoing service enhancements that characterize the equipment market and competition typically require more power, however, not less. Feature demands inevitably pull over time in the opposite direction from energy efficiency. And so while "watts per bit" of throughput is strongly declining at the same time bandwidth continues to grow explosively, few are seriously talking about reduced total power requirements for the industry (any more than the society) overall.
— Steve Koppman, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider
CESR Vendors Target Energy Efficiency Worldwide, an 18-page report, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Heavy Reading Insider, priced at $1,995. This report is available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/insider.