Internet Energy Usage Outpaces Gains in Efficiency

Waking Times

Energy efficiency gains are failing to keep pace with the Internet’s rapid rate of expansion, meaning that global web use is consuming an increasing share energy, warns a new perspective published in the journal Science.

Noting that the world’s data centers already consume 270 terawatt hours and Internet traffic volume is doubling every three years, Diego Reforgiato Recupero of the University of Catania argues for prioritizing energy efficiency in the design of devices, networks, data centers, and software development.

“As the Internet evolves, it is apparent that energy efficiency needs to be addressed,” he writes.

Recupero highlights two approaches for improving efficiency: smart standby and dynamic frequency scaling or CPU throttling.

“The former will allow unused parts of a network device to be put into very low power states, where only very basic functionalities are performed. This method is key for reducing energy consumption because it will allow switching some portion of the network to a sleep mode in a smart and effective way.

Dynamic frequency scal- ing allows us to trade off the energy consumption and processing capacity of internal blocks while satisfying the current traffic load and quality of service constraints. This ensures that when the system is under partial load, parts of it can be throttled to decrease the power consumption without a reduction of overall performance.”

The Italian computer scientist says the next generation of network devices will be “smarter” and “greener”, synchronizing their energy-aware capabilities and better controlling high temperatures that drive up the need for energy intensive cooling systems. He adds that engineers are increasingly using green indicators in designing networks.

Recupero concludes by noting that more efficient design pays dividends beyond environmental gains.

“The fundamental problem of greening the Internet is to strike a fine balance between the demands of performance and the limitations of energy usage,” he writes. “New research initiatives in energy optimization have revealed several aspects of the Internet that can be streamlined. Addressing the issues of energy efficiency will allow us to draw deeper conclusions on how new network systems can be smarter and more effective.”

CITATION: Diego Reforgiato Recupero. Toward a Green Internet. Science Mar 28, 2013. 10.1126/science.1235623

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  • Dan Matheny

    I think it is yet another attempt to gain control of the internet by TPTB because it has proven to be a Frankenstein. Too many dissenting voices – all adding to the noise, but still when people wonder onto sites like this that really want to know what’s going on, it begins to displace money as the god of this world. That cannot be! It’s always amazed me that while information has increased exponentially, so has ignorance.

  • Jefty

    Gee, another clanking low information, high profile environmental cause. This is perfect Al Gore habitat.

    Anyone who studies the breeding habits of the North American Green Money Plucker (politicus pseudo liberalus) should be able to see a flock of them jetting in with their entourage in full plumage if they stay hidden around this watering hole a while.

    • Festus

      Indeed, nothing like having a private plane brimming with silk suited political parasites invade your town so that they can hector you about “the peoples” need to reduce their carbon footprint and wear hemp underwear while a technologically illiterate press cum media arm of the oppressors reprints their fabricated press releases as if it were delivered from the summit of Sinai by Moses himself.

      When is one person in the press/media/blogger/interested bystander going to point at the naked king’s schmuck and state the obvious: the whole environmental movement is a casino of confidence games designed to part people from their money, their liberty and their land.

  • snark

    BS. What utter self serving dreck. The energy use of these devices is in the noise of other uses, including the extravagant waste of energy by the worlds military. Sounds to me like someone is peddling some product, service or agenda.

    Of course the technologically ignorant green crowd will take the robber baron’s bait hook line and sinker. Their contribution will be some sort of “awareness” ribbon or rubber wrist band that will telegraph the simultaneous combination of ignorance and gullibility of their ilk.

    Of course these will be available on websites that are inconveniently exactly the purported problem, assembled by Chinese slave labor and shipped by bilge huffing container ships ten thousand miles and then discarded into landfills across the world when the next cause de jour comes along.

    • Dan Matheny

      Exactly, Snark. What next limiting the power usage of washers, dryers, refrigerators, and microwaves? Or making them more dynamic? If I never used these things, and only left my computer on (which goes to sleep within 6 minutes of non-use, my electric bill would plummet. Who says I have a right to these things anyway?

  • dimitri

    Nice to have the confirmation that the internet is hardly Smart and barely Green.

    Now what was that about all those land fills chock full of discarded CPU’s, monitors, laptops, phones, and the rest of the labor saving catastrophe?

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