CEET report nails wireless as energy monster

Apr 13, 2013 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org) —Research from Australia delivers bracing facts about serious demands on power in the coming years. The researchers find that just pinning power-grid drains on the "cloud" is imprecise. The real problem is on the mobile cloud. The researchers zeroed in on energy consumption needed to support cloud services accessed by wireless networks. They found that wireless networking infrastructure worldwide accounts for significantly more power consumption than data centers.

"By 2015, the of data centers will be a drop in the ocean compared to in delivering cloud services," said Dr Kerry Hinton, Deputy Director, CEET (stands for Center for Energy Efficient Telecommunications). CEET is behind the wake-up report, "The Power of Wireless Cloud." According to CEET, that drop in the ocean is supported by . Wireless networks will use about 90 percent of the energy needed to power the entire wireless cloud services ecosystem in 2015, in contrast with data centers, accounting for nine percent—or less.

While research elsewhere has pointed to data centers as the in threatening energy consumption, loyal users of services from , , and others, with their portable devices, are the real concern, driving a massive surge in energy consumption.

"The problem is that we're all accessing cloud services – things like webmail, and virtual applications – over wireless networks," said Hinton. "It's the modern way but wireless is an energy monster, it's just inherently inefficient."

A simple takeaway is that "Industry needs to focus on the real issues with wireless network technologies if it wants to solve this problem." All aspects of the cloud ecosystem, according to the researchers, must be looked at, as well as data centers.

"We often think of bandwidth as the barrier to the way online services evolve and improve," said a CEET statement discussing the report, but the "very real message here is that the real bottleneck, looming sooner than we think, may be energy."

One of the more bracing factoids in the report compares wireless cloud energy consumption with putting new cars on the road. "Our energy calculations show that by 2015, wireless cloud will consume up to 43 TWh, compared to only 9.2 TWh in 2012, an increase of 460%. This is an increase in carbon footprint from 6 megatonnes of CO2 in 2012 to up to 30 megatonnes of CO2 in 2015, the equivalent of adding 4.9 million cars to the roads."

The goal of the report is not to suggest that everyone stop swiping and tapping on their smartscreens, however.

"I think it's unlikely people trade away the mobile convenience of these services," said a CEET statement. The report is intended as a guide for finding real solutions. According to CEET, one solution might be to increase the way network resources are shared among users, "but more likely we'll need a radical improvement in the efficiency of the technologies themselves and potentially a fundamental change to the way data is managed across the global network. These are the things we're investigating at CEET."

CEET is a partnership between Alcatel-Lucent Australia, Bell Labs, the University of Melbourne, and the Victorian State Government. Their focus is on energy-efficient telecommunications.

Explore further: Studying the speed of multi-hop Bluetooth networks

More information: www.ceet.unimelb.edu.au/pdfs/c… r_wireless_cloud.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Massive energy cost hidden in wireless cloud boom

Apr 11, 2013

(Phys.org) —Insatiable demand for popular online applications on the go has created a sustainability time bomb for cloud services, according to Australian research published this week.

Microsoft-Amazon.com pressed for clean 'cloud'

Apr 19, 2012

Activists rappelled down a Seattle office building Thursday to get Microsoft and Amazon.com to use clean energy to power datacenters running services based in the Internet "cloud."

Microsoft to power Toyota cars on Internet highway

Apr 06, 2011

Microsoft and Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) on Wednesday announced they will work together to infuse the Japanese auto maker's cars with digital capabilities hosted in the Internet "cloud."

How energy-efficient is cloud computing?

Oct 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Conventionally, data storage and data processing are done at the user's own computer, using that computer's storage system and processor. An alternative to this method is cloud computing, ...

Cloud computing gathers steam with mobile devices

Sep 30, 2009

The outlook for the wireless industry is getting cloudier. Consumers have tapped into cloud computing technology for years: sending messages via Hotmail, uploading photos to Facebook or editing a spreadsheet on Google Docs ...

Recommended for you

Audi to develop Tesla Model S all-electric rival

14 hours ago

The Tesla Model S has a rival. Audi is to develop all-electric family car. This is to be a family car that will offer an all-electric range of 280 miles (450 kilometers), according to Auto Express, which ...

A green data center with an autonomous power supply

20 hours ago

A new data center in the United States is generating electricity for its servers entirely from renewable sources, converting biogas from a sewage treatment plant into electricity and water. Siemens implemented ...

After a data breach, it's consumers left holding the bag

20 hours ago

Shoppers have launched into the holiday buying season and retailers are looking forward to year-end sales that make up almost 20% of their annual receipts. But as you check out at a store or click "purchase" on your online shopping cart ...

Can we create an energy efficient Internet?

20 hours ago

With the number of Internet connected devices rapidly increasing, researchers from Melbourne are starting a new research program to reduce energy consumption of such devices.

Brain inspired data engineering

21 hours ago

What if next-generation ICT systems could be based on the brain's structure and its cognitive and adaptive processes? A groundbreaking paradigm of brain-inspired intelligent ICT architectures is being born.

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 13, 2013
These are very sobering figures indeed. I doubt whether the power grids of most Western cities are ready for this. The cost of upgrading infrastructure is going to be huge. Guess who pays?
RealScience
not rated yet Apr 13, 2013
@BSD - the paper discusses wireless in terms of total global wireless users, so the numbers appear to be global rather than just Australia.
If that is the case then even the 2015 number represents just 0.1% of human's CO2 emissions, so it is fast growth of a small number.
alfie_null
not rated yet Apr 14, 2013
In comparing energy consumed by wireless computing to energy consumed by cars-on-the-road, is there any consideration of the reduction of cars-on-the-road because of the availability of wireless devices? People don't drive somewhere because they can accomplish something wirelessly.

There are likely other energy consumers we could use for similar pointless comparisons: streetlights, broadcast transmitters, poorly insulated houses, etc. How does this help my perspective?

The issue is best resolved economically. When there's a strong incentive to save money by saving energy, it will be done.
RealScience
5 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2013
@alfie - A top-notch study would indeed include such trade-offs.
However tethered access (in-office or in-home) seems more likely to diminish travel (telecommuting, teleconferencing) than wireless access, since wireless access removes the bandwith incentive to stay at a high-bandwidth point.

On your last point, yes, if the true cost of energy (including indirect costs such as wars and environmental damage) were reflected in its price, the issue would be resolved by people acting in their own interest.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.