IEEE Energy-Efficient Ethernet Standards Project Reaches Milestone Vote

July 19, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) announced that the development of Ethernet communication standards reached a major milestone when the IEEE 802.3 Working Group approved forwarding the draft of the IEEE P802.3az™ Energy-Efficient Ethernet standard to Working Group ballot. The standard project is now on plan to meet its target September 2010 approval as a standard by the IEEE-SA Standards Board.

IEEE P802.3az™ will be known by its full name of "IEEE Standard for Information Technology – Telecommunications and Information Exchange Between Systems - Local and Metropolitan Area Networks - Specific Requirements Part 3: Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) Access Method and Physical Layer Specifications – Amendment: Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for Energy-Efficient Ethernet."

When completed, the project will extend the existing IEEE Std 802.3™ Ethernet standard to facilitate transition to and from lower power consumption in response to changes in network demand for twisted-pair and backplane PHYs. IEEE P802.3az™ will provide end-users with the ability to reduce energy used by network equipment.

"This is the first project in the history of Ethernet aimed specifically at reducing energy use," says Michael Bennett, Senior Network Engineer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Chair, IEEE P802.3az, Energy Efficient Ethernet Task Force. "IT managers are faced with ongoing pressures to balance energy use and reduce energy costs. Reaching this milestone is an important step towards providing network designers with additional tools to reduce energy consumption."

"Market pressure and legislative action worldwide are demanding improvements in the energy efficiency of networked systems," said David Law, Consultant Engineer, 3Com and Chair for the IEEE 802.3 Working Group. "The capabilities provided by the IEEE P802.3az extension will be important as Ethernet becomes an enabler for low-duty cycle, consumer-class applications. Additionally it will enable new system-level energy management techniques that will save energy beyond the network interface."

"Consumer interest in energy efficiency is driven, in part, by initiatives such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program. This has attracted the attention of computer and network equipment manufacturers to contribute to the IEEE P802.3az standard" said Bennett. "The industry is committed to creating a sensible Energy Efficient Ethernet standard to facilitate its rapid adoption so end users can mitigate the energy crunch in their facilities."