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What Is Energy Efficient Ethernet?

Energy Efficient Ethernet

Energy Efficient Ethernet is a green method that saves power in wired Ethernet links. It does this by making gadgets go into a low-power sleep condition when there is less data traffic, which helps to reduce energy usage considerably without affecting the operation. Think of your network lights getting less bright when they’re not transferring data, that’s because of the power efficiency made possible by EEE.

Principles of Energy Efficient Ethernet

The main ideas of Energy Efficient Ethernet are to save power when data activity is low and make sure it works well with current Ethernet equipment. The method for doing these things is by allowing the physical layer (PHY) of the Ethernet controller to go into a low-power idle (LPI) mode if there is no data being sent.

Here, the physical layer sends LPI symbols for some time and then shuts off its transmitter, but keeps its receive circuitry on so link signaling stays intact. Whenever data is ready to be sent, a regular IDLE signal is dispatched for a set time period. After this, transmission of data starts again. When the PHY gets put into sleep mode during idle times, it can save a considerable amount of energy without affecting the continuous operational feature of the Ethernet link.

The Benefits of Energy Efficient Ethernet

Energy Efficient Ethernet is an important advancement for businesses and organizations who want to decrease their environmental footprint while also saving on energy expenses.

  • It helps in saving power by making devices enter a low-power sleep state when there is not much data traffic. This could result in notable reduction of energy use, particularly for networks experiencing considerable idle time.
  • Utilizing less energy means spending less money on electricity. For data centers or businesses that possess massive networks, this could result in substantial savings.
  • It lessens energy usage, which is beneficial for reducing your carbon footprint and promoting a future that’s more sustainable.
  • Energy efficient ethernet can be an important help for making data centers work better. It lowers the use of energy, which then helps to decrease costs in cooling and also promotes environmental friendliness within a data center environment.
  • For many, the process of enabling EEE is fairly simple. Numerous contemporary network devices already possess built-in EEE capabilities and necessitate only minimal alterations in configuration.

Things to Consider with EEE

Energy Efficient Ethernet isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

Compatibility Check: All devices don’t use the same energy-saving language. Make sure your network equipment supports EEE for maximum advantages.

Speed Bump or Smooth Ride: Waking from sleep mode in EEE could lead to a small latency bump. For most networks, it’s not an issue but for applications that need continuous and immediate data flow, this is something to consider.

Network Needs: A network that has idle periods is where EEE truly stands out. But if your network is always filled with data, EEE may not provide a significant advantage.

Comparison with Other Energy Efficient Networking Technologies

Energy Efficient Ethernet is not the sole technology that concentrates on decreasing energy use in networking. Other technologies like Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs), ZigBee, Z-Wave, WiFi, Bluetooth and wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are also striving to reduce energy consumption while keeping up with network performance.

Efficient Networking Technologies
Image Credit: Canva


LPWANs, like LoRaWAN, Sigfox and NB-IoT, are made for low-power and low-bandwidth communication in IoT uses. The advantage these have is the longer battery life. This makes them good for applications where energy use is important.

ZigBee and Z-Wave

ZigBee and Z-Wave are wireless communication technologies that work with low power and handle low data rates. These kinds of tech are often used in home automation systems as well as for other Internet of Things (IoT) setups. Their design is to give a balance between using less power while still staying dependable in sending messages.

WiFi and Bluetooth

The wireless communication technologies of WiFi and Bluetooth are greatly utilized, and they have undergone energy optimization in these past years. Specifically, Bluetooth Low Energy is created to offer low-energy consumption while keeping a stable link.

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs)

Wireless sensor networks are groups of sensors that communicate without wires to observe and trace different measures. In WSNs, routing protocols which save energy play a significant role in extending the life of sensor nodes. Different routing protocols have been proposed for reducing energy consumption in WSNs; one example is QoS-based Energy-Efficient Sensor Routing (QuESt).

Artificial Intelligence in Energy-Efficient Networks

Artificial intelligence is being investigated to maximize energy efficiency in networks. AI methods can give suggestions for network node settings that save more energy yet maintain Quality of Experience (QoE), showing promise for substantial energy reductions.

Implementation of Energy Efficient Ethernet

Implementing Energy Efficient Ethernet involves a strategic approach to upgrading or integrating EEE-compliant devices into an existing network infrastructure. This includes replacing traditional Ethernet switches and network interface cards (NICs) with EEE-enabled counterparts, configuring EEE settings on devices and switches, and ensuring compatibility with existing network equipment. Network administrators should monitor and manage energy consumption, adjust power settings based on network utilization, and consider implementing other energy-saving technologies, such as Power over Ethernet (PoE), to maximize energy efficiency gains.

Energy-Efficient Ethernet gives a strong answer for businesses and organizations who are looking to go with sustainability as well as decrease expenses. If you use energy efficient ethernet, it can help you save a lot of energy which will add up to make our future more green. Keep in mind that even small moves towards environmentally-friendly actions can create big changes.

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