As network speeds increase optical switching research increases with green and energy efficient benefits

Initially, I saw MIT's news announcing 100 times faster with less energy consumption, and dismissed the news.

An Internet 100 times as fast

A new network design that avoids the need to convert optical signals into electrical ones could boost capacity while reducing power consumption.

Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office

In today’s Internet, data traveling through optical fibers as beams of light have to be converted to electrical signals for processing. By dispensing with that conversion, a new network design could increase Internet speeds 100-fold.

June 28, 2010

The heart of the Internet is a network of high-capacity optical fibers that spans continents. But while optical signals transmit information much more efficiently than electrical signals, they’re harder to control. The routers that direct traffic on the Internet typically convert optical signals to electrical ones for processing, then convert them back for transmission, a process that consumes time and energy.
In recent years, however, a group of MIT researchers led by Vincent Chan, the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has demonstrated a new way of organizing optical networks that, in most cases, would eliminate this inefficient conversion process. As a result, it could make the Internet 100 or even 1,000 times faster while actually reducing the amount of energy it consumes.

But, then here comes news from European Commission on Optical switching and green photonics.

C-3PO Strives for Green Photonics

JULY 8, 2010 | Craig Matsumoto | Post a comment

A European Commission-funded project is giving the optical components sector some green street cred by aiming to squeeze the power requirements for certain types of photonic devices.

The three-year project is being called Colorless and Coolerless Components for Low-Power Optical Networks, which participants are shortening to C-3PO.

Yes, sci-fi geeks, they named it after a breakfast cereal.

ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) is announcing its involvement today, but C-3PO got introduced to the world a couple of weeks ago.

The author tries to tie in why energy efficient networks are important and the relationship with virtualization.

Photonics are not the biggest power suck in the network. But C-3PO participants reason thatevery piece of the network will eventually need a green checkup. "Every single layer in the complete network has to be considered, and that means network architectures, maybe even application architectures, systems, components, and safe or sleep modes. Optics can't be excluded," Grobe says.

The data center, as a whole, is a more obvious power hog, but Grobe points out that this problem is being addressed by virtualization, a process that lets users tap servers and storage that are widely distributed. Virtualization is made possible by high-speed optical networks. Thus, low-power optics will have some role in defining data-center power usage.