The INTelligent Energy awaRe NETworks (INTERNET) project is sponsored by EPSRC.

Summary

Energy efficient processes are increasingly key priorities for ICT companies with attention being paid to both ecological and economic drivers. Although in some cases the use of ICT can be beneficial to the environment (for example by reducing journeys and introducing more efficient business processes), countries are becoming increasingly aware of the very large growth in energy consumption of telecommunications companies. For instance in 2007 BT consumed 0.7% of the UK's total electricity usage. In particular, the predicted future growth in the number of connected devices, and the internet bandwidth of an order of magnitude or two is not practical if it leads to a corresponding growth in energy consumption. Regulations may therefore come soon, particularly if Governments mandate moves towards carbon neutrality. Therefore the applicants believe that this proposal is of great importance in seeking to establish the current limits on ICT performance due to known environmental concerns and then develop new ICT techniques to provide enhanced performance. In particular they believe that substantial advances can be achieved through the innovative use of renewable sources and the development of new architectures, protocols, and algorithms operating on hardware which will itself allows significant reductions in energy consumption. This will represent a significant departure from accepted practices where ICT services are provided to meet the growing demand, without any regard for the energy consequences of relative location of supply and demand. In this project therefore, we propose innovatively to consider optimised dynamic placement of ICT services, taking account of varying energy costs at producer and consumer. Energy consumption in networks today is typically highly confined in switching and routing centres. Therefore in the project we will consider block transmission of data between centres chosen for optimum renewable energy supply as power transmission losses will often make the shipping of power to cities (data centres/switching nodes in cities) unattractive. Variable renewable sources such as solar and wind pose fresh challenges in ICT installations and network design, and hence this project will also look at innovative methods of flexible power consumption of block data routers to address this effect. We tackle the challenge along three axes: (i) We seek to design a new generation of ICT infrastructure architectures by addressing the optimisation problem of placing compute and communication resources between the producer and consumer, with the (time-varying) constraint of minimising energy costs. Here the architectures will leverage the new hardware becoming available to allow low energy operation. (ii) We seek to design new protocols and algorithms to enable communications systems to adapt their speed and power consumption according to both the user demand and energy availability. (iii) We build on recent advances in hardware which allow the block routing of data at greatly reduced energy levels over electronic techniques and determine hardware configurations (using on chip monitoring for the first time) to support these dynamic energy and communications needs. Here new network components will be developed, leveraging for example recent significant advances made on developing lower power routing hardware with routing power levels of approximately 1 mW/Gb/s for ns block switching times. In order to ensure success, different companies will engage their expertise: BT, Ericsson, Telecom New Zealand, Cisco and BBC will play a key role in supporting the development of the network architectures, provide experimental support and traffic traces, and aid standards development. Solarflare, Broadcom, Cisco and the BBC will support our protocol and intelligent traffic solutions. Avago, Broadcom and Oclaro will play a key role in the hardware development.