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New Ethernet Standard To Cut Energy Waste

The IEEE has ratified a new standard designed to cut down the amount of energy wasted by ethernet-connected devices.

Unlike earlier attempts to reduce power consumption that relied on dropping network links before reconnecting at a lower speed, the P802.3az Energy-Efficiency Ethernet (EEE) standard works more elegantly by "transitioning" interfaces into a low-power state during periods of low utilisation.

"Minimising energy-use is an ongoing battle, and there is always pressure on ICT managers to do more with less. The EEE standard will save energy and lower operational expenses," said Michael J Bennett, chair of the IEEE 802.3az task force and senior network engineer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Bennett added that the standard's ease of implementation could add to its vendor appeal: "The great advantage of using products supporting EEE is that there is no complex configuration necessary. In most cases, energy will be saved automatically."

The standard should appear in devices ranging from consumer printers to routers and through to switches and computers, which the IEEE pointed out waste energy even when not in use.

The IEEE estimates that after adoption by the hardware industry, the standard would create power savings in the US alone of 5 terawatt-hours per year, which equates to enough energy to power six million 100W light bulbs.

With the technology industry under increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint, the IEEE believes the standard could cut the sector's emissions by five million tonnes a year.

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