Researchers at Chalmers recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient.
Researchers at Chalmers recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded multiple scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.
Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now. But to accommodate this digital lifestyle, a huge amount of data needs to be transmitted through fibre optic cables – and that amount is increasing at an almost unimaginable rate, consuming an enormous amount of electricity. This is completely unsustainable – at the current rate of increase, if no energy efficiency gains were made, within ten years the internet alone would consume more electricity than is currently generated worldwide. The electricity production cannot be increased at the same rate without massively increasing the usage of fossil fuels for electricity generation, which of course would lead to a significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions.
“The challenge lies in meeting that inevitable demand for capacity and performance, while keeping costs at a reasonable level and minimising the environmental impacts,” says Peter Andrekson, Professor of Photonics at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience at Chalmers.
Read more at Chalmers University of Technology
Image: Algorithms for managing data centre traffic, smart error-correcting data chips, and optical frequency combs can all contribute to reducing the electricity consumption of the internet. CREDIT: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers