Saturday, January 16, 2010

Internet's Power Usage Could Be Reduced 99.9%

Smarter data coding could cut the energy used by the world's data networks 99.9% by 2015.

The New Scientist reports that Bell Labs has launched a coalition of information and communications industry experts called Green Touch. The consortium has the vision of "significantly reducing the carbon footprint of ICT [information and communications technology] devices, platforms and networks."

Smarter Coding Cuts Through Noise

Green Touch members have identified many approaches to cutting energy use by data communications networks:
  • Today's networks use high levels of power to rise above the noise inherent in communications channels. Bell Labs plans to develop low-power networks by implementing a code that detects low-power signals and ignores the noise.

  • An MIT engineer is looking at ways to bundle data traveling over similar routes, which will reduce traffic on trunk routes that consume large amounts of power.

  • A professor at the University of Melbourne, Australia, will consider "ways to make modems and phones go into a sleep mode when not in use — but from which they can wake up quickly."

  • Other efforts will focus on power savings in memory and displays, and on changing user behavior.

Generating the power for our telephone, internet and cell phone networks releases 300 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year, says the head of research for Bell Labs. That's equal to the emissions from 50 million cars, or one of every 5 cars registered in the U.S.

Imagine the reduction in air pollution if 99.9% of those cars — or 49.95 million cars — were taken off the road.

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