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'Green' Ethernet standard ratified

Fri, 10/08/2010 - 8:15am
Brian Santo

The IEEE has ratified the P802.3az Energy-Efficient Ethernet (EEE) standard. The organization said this is the first Ethernet standard to address proactive reduction in energy consumption for networked devices.

The IEEE 802.3az standard can be applied to network-attached devices, network routers and switches, computers, and printers.
According to the ITU World Summit on the Information Society, electricity demand by the information technology sector for industrialized countries is between 5 percent and 10 percent of total electricity demand. About 50 percent of this electricity is wasted by equipment that is powered on but idle.

When IEEE 802.3az-compliant products have been fully deployed in new and existing Ethernet networks, it is estimated that power savings in the U.S. alone can reach 5 terawatt-hours per year, or enough energy to power 6 million 100-watt light bulbs.

Michael J. Bennett, chair of the IEEE 802.3az Energy-Efficient Ethernet Task Force and senior network engineer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said: "The great advantage of using products supporting EEE is that there is no complex configuration necessary. In most cases, energy will be saved automatically."

The IEEE 802.3az amendment to the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard defines mechanisms and protocols designed to reduce the energy consumption of network links during periods of low utilization by transitioning interfaces into a low-power state.

IEEE P802.3az also uses the Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLPD) from IEEE P802.1AB and Type, Length, Values (TLVs) from IEEE 802.3bc. This enables system designers to save more than the Ethernet interface energy by allowing communication of energy-utilization information between link partners without interrupting the network link.

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