Energy efficient network management

Current estimates indicate that ICT is responsible for a fraction of the world energy consumption ranging between 2 and 10%. The main energy consumers in the ICT field are large data centers and server farms, and telecommunication networks, including wired and wireless telephony networks, as well as the Internet. Telecom Italia consumes more than 2 TWh a year, representing about 1% of 
the total national energy demand, second only to the Italian railway system. The energy consumption of ICT is expected to grow even further in the future. Estimates forecast a ten-fold increase in the energy consumed by the telecommunication sector in Italy in the next ten years, the main culprit being customer premises networking equipment. 
In this context, there is a large number of diverse research activities going on worldwide. Just to mention a few: new parsimonious equipments are being proposed, including hardware with reduced needs for cooling infrastructure; ingenious, but sometimes odd, approaches, like moving data centers and service farms to mountain resorts where cooling is cheaper; the use of alternative and more climate graceful energy sources. 
In some recent research activity, the TNG group is focusing on energy-aware algorithms for a renovated network design, planning, and management that take into account energy consumption. The activity includes the development of:

  • dynamic network planning techniques that adapt the number of active devices to the actual capacity needs, powering off some equipments when, due to the natural day/night traffic variability, they are underutilized,
  • algorithms for energy-aware topology design,
  • strategies for global energy consumption reduction based operators' cooperative vs competitive approaches to the market.

A more focused activity has been the design of a distributed web application, called PoliSave, that permits to power off the personal computers of the staff of Politecnico di Torino in off-work times (e,g., at night or during week-ends), and to power them on when needed through a web service, in which the energy saving profile of each PC can be fully configured. Another active area of investigation is the assessment of power issues in switches and routers, ranging from the identification of the most power-hungry subsystems in switching architectures, to the assessment of scaling laws of power requirements of routers and switches for increasing switching capacities, to the evaluation of potential benefits in power consumption due to the introduction of optical technologies in packet switching.

Contact person: MEO MICHELA

Research groups