Visionary Seminar: Reducing the ecological footprint of the Internet

Organised by Leuven.Inc in cooperation with imec.

Without disruptive modifications of the architecture of the Internet, the carbon footprint would grow exponentially due to the growing number of users as well as the fast growing data communication per user. To achieve this goal, a coordinated approach across the globe between internet equipment manufacturers, service suppliers, research institutes and governments is needed.

Bell Labs, the research division of telecom specialist Alcatel-Lucent, created in January 2010 the Open Innovation Consortium Green Touch. Its goal is to reduce the energy consumption of the Internet with 1000x by 2015.

During this seminar, we will focus on the Bell Labs study which analyzes the power consumption in communication networks. We will describe and critically review the ambition of the Green Touch Consortium and present the results of the Dresden Cool Silicon cluster of excellence, a Saxony initiative with comparable aims. Finally we will zoom into the possibilities for energy saving in respectively fixed access and wireless access.

Practical aspects
Date: Thursday March 3rd, 2011
Location: imec, Auditorium, Kapeldreef 75, 3001 Leuven (Heverlee)


- 16h30: Welcome coffee
- 17h00: Welcome by Leuven.Inc
- 17h10: The ecological footprint of the Internet today and tomorrow
Rudy Lauwereins, Vice-President, Director Smart Systems Technology Office, imec
- 17h30: GreenTouch and the factor 1000: a power reduction goal for sustainable communication
Michael Peeters, CTO, Wireline Division, Networks, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, Antwerpen
- 18h00: Low impact radios for a sustainable future Internet
Liesbet Vander Perre, Program Director Green Radio, imec
- 18h30: Coffee break
- 19h00: Greener cooler cellular Communications challenges
Gerhard P. Fettweis, Vodafone Chair Mobile Communication Systems, Prof. Technische Universität Dresden
- 19h30: Green Internet: the End-to-End Story
Piet Demeester, Prof. Ghent University, Head of Future Internet Department IBBT
- 20h00: Panel discussion and Q&A
- 20h20: Drinks and snacks


'The ecological footprint of the Internet today and tomorrow: fairytale or horror story?', Rudy Lauwereins, Vice-President, Director Smart Systems Technology Office, imec
Today, the carbon footprint of the Internet infrastructure is 25% of that of all cars worldwide. Due to the anticipated exponential growth of the Internet capacity in the foreseeable future, its carbon footprint will surpass quickly that of 's worlds transportation sector unless technological disruptions are implemented. In this presentation, I will analyze the energy consumption and carbon footprint of the Internet and I will link it to capacity growth. I will then introduce two initiatives, GreenTouch and CoolSilicon, that aspire to radically improve the energy efficiency by several orders of magnitude. Finally, I will introduce the next speakers, who will present and critically review those two initiatives.

'GreenTouch and the factor 1000: a power reduction goal for sustainable communication', Michael Peeters, Fixed Access, Access Node Technology & DSL, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, Antwerpen

GreenTouch is a consortium of leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, academic and non-governmental research experts dedicated to fundamentally transforming communications and data networks, including the Internet, and significantly reducing the carbon footprint of ICT devices, platforms and networks.

Today's networks are optimized for performance, not energy efficiency. A network optimized for performance and energy implies a very different design and architecture and this is what is needed to be sustainable in the future. Theoretical limits built upon Shannon's theory indicate that the network data traffic generated by network users today could be transported using as little as 1 milliwatt of power. That's 25,000 times less than the 25 watts of energy estimated to be consumed by a network user today using state of the art equipment. Keeping pace with Internet growth requires high capacity solutions and thus the energy per data bit is the key quantity that needs to be reduced. Increasing network efficiency in this context can be expressed as increasing the traffic supported in bits per second for a given total network power. By 2015, GreenTouch's goal is to deliver the architecture, specifications and roadmap - and demonstrate key components - needed to increase that network energy efficiency by a factor of 1000 from current levels.

'Low Impact Radios for a sustainable future Internet', Liesbet Vander Perre, Program Director Green Radio, imec
Until five years ago, research in wireless communications was mainly geared towards offering ever higher data rates and improving coverage. Today however, society appeals to us to tackle the far more fundamental problems. We have indeed become aware that reducing energy consumption and radiation levels will be essential to sustain a further evolution towards viable, ubiquitous connectivity.

We propose the 'double scaling' concept as a key solution to achieve drastic energy savings. This concept targets to exploit both cell and technology downscaling in a mutually reinforcing way. Low impact radios leveraging on technology scaling and smart antennas, will operate in hybrid small cells reducing energy consumption as well as radiation drastically. If wireless communication in the future happens predominantly via much smaller cells, the infrastructure‐side could also be largely implemented in a much more integrated and energy efficient way, in the end also fully deeply‐scaled silicon based. Ultimately, the double scaling offers attractive perspectives for greener communications in future internet.

'Greener cooler cellular Communications challenges', Gerhard Fettweis, Vodafone Chair Mobile Communication Systems, Prof. Technische Universität Dresden
Innovations in the area of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are adapted at tremendous speed, and the worldwide use of ICT has soared in recent years. However, the unprecedented growth comes at a price of energy consumption. Assuming the growth to continue at its current pace, running tomorrow's ICT anywhere would require 100% of today's electric power grid by 2020.
Availability of communications at any corner in the world has to be a political goal to enable any society to participate in the knowledge creation, to enable modern education, and to become part of the global economy. Broadband mobile communications is a corner stone technology for enabling this, and therefore its energy consumption must be monitored carefully. Increasing the energy efficiency of mobile communications systems is thus clearly a responsibility which needs to be taken up for the world of tomorrow. It poses a major R&D challenge in the decades to come.
In this talk challenges which need to be addressed on the network side, the roll-out architecture, but also impacts of terminals and silicon architecture for signal processing will be discussed. Possible ways forward shall be pointed out.

'Green Internet: the End-to-End Story', Piet Demeester, Prof. Ghent University, Head of Future Internet Department IBBT
Research on individual networking technologies (e.g. reducing fixed or wireless access power consumption) is a crucial step towards a sustainable Internet ecosystem. This is however not sufficient, a more holistic approach is required that takes into account the whole end-to-end system and not only the networking part. Several aspects are important here: the complete life cycle of products that are used; servers, PC's, wireless terminals, networked consumer products and multimedia equipment have to be included; the possibilities of distributed renewable energy sources should be taken into account; the behavior of people could also have an important impact and services should become energy aware. This presentation will focus on this more holistic view on energy consumption.

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