Towards an energy efficient 10 Gb/s optical ethernet: performance analysis and viability

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The new IEEE 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) standard will improve significantly the energy efficiency of 10 Gbps copper transceivers by the introduction of a sleep mode for idle transmission times. The next step towards energy saving seems to be the application of similar concepts to Optical Ethernet, both for short and long range links. To this aim, this paper starts by proposing an analytical model to estimate the energy consumption of a link that uses a sleep-mode power saving mechanism. This model can be useful to answer a number of questions that need to be carefully studied. Otherwise, the complexity of optical components could be increased for the sake of an energy saving that could turn out negligible. In the rest of the paper we analyze three key questions to try to shed some light on this design decision: (a) is the new copper EEE actually outperforming the current regular optical Ethernet in terms of energy saving in such a way that optical PHYs (transceivers) actually need a green upgrade to remain more energy efficient than their copper counterparts? (b) How much energy saving could be actually achieved by EE optical Ethernet? (c) What is the transition time required to achieve a substantial energy saving at medium traffic loads on EE 10 Gb/s optical Ethernet links? The answer to the latter question sets a concrete goal for short-term research in fast on–off laser technology.
Optical ethernet, Energy-efficient ethernet, Energy efficiency, PHY design
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Optical switching and networking, July 2011, vol. 8, n. 3, p. 131 - 138