Global Energy Conservation in Large Data Networks

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Virginia Tech

Seven to ten percent of the energy used globally goes towards powering information and communications technology (ICT): the global data- and telecommunications network, the private and commercial datacenters it supports, and the 19 billion electronic devices around the globe it interconnects, through which we communicate, and access and produce information. As bandwidth and data rates increase, so does the volume of traffic, as well as the absolute amount of new information digitized and uploaded onto the Net and into the cloud each second. Words like gigabit and terabyte were needless fifteen years ago in the public arena; now, they are common phrases. As people use their networked devices to do more, to access more, to send more, and to connect more, they use more energy--not only in their own devices, but also throughout the ICT. While there are many endeavors focused on individual low-power devices, few are examining broad strategies that cross the many boundaries of separate concerns within the ICT; also, few are assessing the impact of specific strategies on the global energy supply: at a global scale. This work examines the energy savings of several such strategies; it also assesses their efficacy in reducing energy consumption, both within specific networks and within the larger ICT. All of these strategies save energy by reducing the work done by the system as a whole on behalf of a single user, often by exploiting commonalities among what many users around the globe are also doing to amortize the costs.

Computer engineering, Electrical Engineering, System science, energy, networks, computing, communication, ICT, energy-efficiency, routers, in-network processing