Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

The Redback Networks Inc. portion of Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is suggesting some new energy-usage metrics for edge routers, contributing to the ongoing effort to lower the power consumption of telecom gear.

Ericsson's thesis is that in its obsession to go green, the industry needs to develop metrics that take into account the different needs of different network segments. "It's not so much about new methodology. It's about putting the results in a more meaningful form for carriers," says Jeff Baher, senior director of product marketing at Ericsson.

The work is part of an ongoing Ericsson effort to make its products more energy-conscious, but it also ties in with a greater telecom and networking trend toward lower energy consumption. (See Recent Moves in Green Telecom and Green Telecom Preview.)

Ericsson has two ideas in particular that it's announcing today: measuring Watts per subscriber at the edge of the IP network, and Watts per circuit in the metro network.

Ericsson says it's not trying to start a shouting match with other vendors, such as Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). Last fall, those companies developed the Energy Consumption Rating (ECR) as a way to repeatably measure the greenness of a piece of equipment. (See Ixia, Juniper Start Counting Green.)

Rather, Ericsson wants to run its ideas past the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) , which crafted the Telecommunication Energy Efficiency Ratio (TEER) ratings that are highly regarded by carriers.

"The debate is not so much the methodology. The debate would be whether this is practical," Baher says of Ericsson's metrics. "What isn't in [the TEER] equation are ways to drive Watts per subscriber, Watts per VLL [virtual leased line], or Watts per MAC address."

Ericsson came up with its suggestions by trying to match up with the metrics carriers already use. For the network's edge, carriers want to measure resource consumption per subscriber; the average revenue per user (ARPU) obsession is an obvious example. "If we can better isolate the cost of energy going to subscribers, then it helps put our product more in terms that their business is laid out in," says Baher.

In the metro, the currency of choice is the circuit, rather than full Ethernet capacity. "What you really want to know is: How many times can I slice it?" Baher notes.

The other problem with measuring raw capacity -- that is, the number of Watts per gigabit per second -- in the metro is that some systems' control planes max out before the Ethernet capacity does, "especially in systems that came more from the Layer 2 enterprise world," Baher says.

Ericsson, not surprisingly, is pretty happy with how the SmartEdge stacks up under the new metrics.

Table 1: How Green Art Thou?
Vendor System(s) Greenness
Ericsson SmartEdge 1200 15 mW/subscriber
Huawei ME60-16 50 mW/sub
Juniper MX480 + E320 69 mW/sub
Alcatel-Lucent 7450 + 7750-SR7 172 mW/sub
Cisco 7609 + 10000 176 mW/sub
Source: Ericsson. Based on a configuration of edge routers and subscriber management systems in a 'typical' triple-play installation.

One factor that comes into play is the age of an architecture. Newer designs, having been built to provide better specs than what's on the market, seem to come out with lower power numbers, as shown in these results measured for a typical edge-network service delivering voice, data, and video, and including subscriber management.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Green Telecom East 2009: Transitioning to Environmentally Responsible Networks, a one-day conference designed to provide telecom executives with a concise summary of the latest infrastructure developments that will facilitate a global transition to environmentally responsible networks, to be staged in New York, June 17. For more information, or to register, click here.

COMMENTS Add Comment
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yarn 12/5/2012 | 4:03:03 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

And I thought the Hulk was the only incredible green monster out there..

Watt per sub, but at which capacity? Is this about having green memory?

rob-haim 12/5/2012 | 4:03:01 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers How about this: watts per capacity but to how many subscribers? the point is that there are different ways of looking at a situation. Watts per sub follows something like ARPU on the revenue side.
rob-haim 12/5/2012 | 4:03:01 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

Just to be clear, all numbers in this table, other than the SE1200, were derived from publicly available information and Iometrix did not conduct any tests on them, again other than the SE1200.

lindsay_newell 12/5/2012 | 4:03:00 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

The power consumption stated by Ericsson for the Alcatel-Lucent 7450 + 7750 SR is completely wrong. Ericsson chose to wrongly assume that two Alcatel-Lucent boxes are required, which has never been the case for subscriber management. Even with two boxes, the Alcatel-Lucent solution would still be under 30mW/sub.

Using Ericsson's own flawed methodology, the correct data for a single Alcatel-Lucent 7750 SR-7 supporting 128k subscribers is a best-in-class 14.7mW/sub.

Separately, the methodology chosen is flawed, since it assumes <2Mb/s per sub, which is barely enough for basic Internet access, never mind IPTV.

If the comparison used a more realistic, but still less than ideal, 5Mb/s per sub and 128k subs, this would need three SE1200s vs one Alcatel-Lucent 7750 SR-12, obviously resulting in a signficantly higher power consumption by the Ericsson solution, as well as additional physical rack space. The difference is due to the more than 2x difference in Gigabit density between the platforms (i.e. both subscriber scale and density/performance matter).

Lindsay Newell

VP Marketing


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:03:00 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

Correct, and thanks for the clarification, rob-haim.  I've removed mention of Iometrix.

t.bogataj 12/5/2012 | 4:02:59 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

Craig, you missed the winner so green, so obvious that it hurts. With just 0 (zero) mW/sub, the edgeless architecture is #1 in your table. Regardless of methodology.


desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 4:02:54 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers



When do you replace the numbers with the ones from the rebuttals you receive?  I'm sure Juniper, cisco, et al, will rush to defend their systems, as ALU has.  Don't you think you owe it to everyone to put the correct numbers into your article, as you receive them. so your piece doesn't smack of Ericsson's marketese?


volkot 12/5/2012 | 4:02:52 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

Ericsson's thinking seems very immature and teeters on the edge of a "paid advertisiment".

The basics of energy efficiency at network device level are now well understood and have been described in a number of publications, including VZ.TPR9205, Green Grid "Proxy Metrics" and ATIS TEER draft to name a few.

The main idea is to measure the "actual energy consumption" to "actual work" ratio in a real test. For packet systems, "actual work" equates to bandwidth with lowest-common-denominator features enabled.

Consensus-driven and non-exotic nature of such simplistic test profiles acts as a safeguard against rigging results with Ericsonian-style "typical triple-play configurations" that would otherwise favor test sponsors.

There is also a (somewhat wordly but still good) whitepaper on a difference between rated (worst-case), theoretical and measured energy published on ECR website (ecr.org).

Of course, different devices need different load; ethernet switches are fed with simpler traffic composure (ie stateless streams) compared to BRAS/BNG devices. But as soon as the reference load is defined and every device is tested within correct equipment class and under the same test methodology, the results should remain fully comparable.

Judging by press release, Ericsson managed to take not one, but two steps back from where everyone already stands.

First off, they introduced two new and quite meaningless metrics (energy per subscriber and energy per circuit). It's quite clear that "subscribers" can have different speed and packet touch profiles, and so do "circuits" -  the chosen metrics are too vague to start with. The argument about "unique control plane" requirements does not hold - the same can be said about virtually any network device from firewalls to wireless base stations.

Second, Ericsson decided to steer away from fair comparison in the first place.

If they would want to stick to some sensible methodology, they would never resort to comparing one Ericsson device against stacked devices of other vendors. This is not needed becase capacity differences are patently  insignificant to normalized metrics.

Overall, looks like a very clumsy attempt to board a green bandwagon.



Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:02:52 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

We've only gotten the one rebuttal.  Problem with any green comparison is that not all systems are equivalent, so every vendor can claim that its gear would require a simpler configuration than others (or a host of other exceptions).

Maybe including the table was a mistake, considering the number of caveats and exceptions that come with any kind of "green" measuring (not to mention vendors' aggressiveness at trying to be greener-than-thou).  There's always the question of whether the scenario or configuration being considering is the right one.  Data-sheet energy numbers probably aren't the answer, since they're all worst-case; every vendor's going to kludge a better "typical-case" figure. Green is a messy area for these vendors, with a lot of loose boundaries.

alexismcd 12/5/2012 | 4:02:38 PM
re: Ericsson Thinks Green for Routers

For more details on the Ixia/Juniper/Lawrence Berkley National Labs "Energy Consumption Rating (ECR) Initiative" please check out: http://www.ecrinitiative.org/

The site features a doc on test procedure and measurement methodology for the ECR-supported metric of Watts/Gbps of traffic.



Ixia Marketing

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