Dale Cosgro, a product manager at Hewlett-Packard, told Computerworld that serious advances in network energy efficiency are on their way. “We should be able to get networking equipment that uses 100 watts today down to ten watts,” Cosgro said.
He said advances in silicon technology will reduce energy leakage, with each new generation of chips boosting efficiency. Other features being planned are circuit designs that allow components not in use to be turned off.
“As new generations of products hit the market, more of these kinds of features will be implemented,” Cosgro said.
Although not as power-hungry as servers or storage, networking can account for up to 15 percent of an enterprise’s IT power, Computerworld said.
Servers come with power management controls, but network equipment must always be switched on, the magazine said. There are ways to work around this, however. When offices are closed, energy management software could shut off current to voice-over-IP handsets. Or one of the two routers supporting an edge switch – the switch connecting two networks – could shut down at night.
Cosgo said the industry has already made energy improvements, with more efficient software and hardware designed to run at higher temperatures, which reduces cooling costs. He said HP’s ProCurve networking equipment can run safely at up to 130 degrees, higher than most other data center equipment.
But Drue Reeves, an analyst at Burton Group, sounded a note of caution. “No one knows how networking and other types of equipment will react when sitting next to servers that displace more BTUs,” he said.
And real-time power and temperature monitoring is essential, said Rockwell Bonecutter, global lead at Accenture’s green IT practice.
The Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a consortium of businesses, environmental groups and consumers, has launched an industry workgroup to develop energy efficiency targets and best practices for networking technologies.