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The Sustainable Network and Edge: Building the Foundation for the Future, Today.

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The Sustainable Network and Edge: Building the Foundation for the Future, Today.

By Jeni Panhorst, NEX Sustainability Sponsor 


As the world becomes increasingly connected and digital, companies everywhere are grappling with the need to quickly transform every aspect of their business. From an Intelligent Edge, to the Cloud, through 5G networks and everything in between this transformation requires more and more compute resources. While adapting their businesses will help drive better outcomes, at the same time we must address the increased power demand on networks, sensors, and data centers as a result. We can’t let this transformation happen at the expense of being good stewards to our environment. 

Today, telecom networks consume 1.5 times more power than global data centers, and over the next decade, network traffic is expected to grow tenfold due to the explosion of 5G, private networks and the Internet of Things (IoT). As we enable this growth, we must stay focused on doing it in the right way. We must lead with humanity, where infrastructure must be carbon aware and carbon responsive through its entire lifecycle, and do it sustainably with carbon impact as a key measuring stick for success. 

With that in mind, today Intel announced a plan for two key greenhouse gas reduction milestones: a 30% reduction by 2030 and net-zero greenhouse gas by 2040. It’s a critical vision with sweeping impacts for Intel and our partners. We are pleased to share this journey with our partners and customers – across the globe – who are accelerating their own sustainability initiatives with net zero carbon pledges.  


Reducing Processor Power Draw 

Intel takes great pride in building energy efficiency into our products, delivering programmable hardware and open software to enable sustainable intelligent infrastructure, and creating IoT solutions that improve green outcomes across industries. 

In our Network and Edge businesses, our telecom customers seek innovative ways to manage power usage while the data flowing through their networks continues to multiply. By expanding the control of the hardware and software that make up data center and networking equipment, we’re giving telecom networks the intelligence to take advantage of the cyclical nature of network usage and dramatically improve power efficiency 

For example, most 4G or 5G networks are designed to support the highest possible data throughput -- a cell tower on a heavily traveled freeway must be capable of delivering peak data services during rush hour traffic. This performance typically means all networking equipment is consuming the maximum amount of power. But those traffic levels are not sustained throughout the day. There won’t be as many cars on that freeway at 2 pm or 2 am, for example. Intel Xeon Scalable processors have features that allow customers to save energy in periods of lower network demand. These energy saving capabilities scale up with each new generation of Xeon processors and make a big difference in 5G networks. 

To help build a sustainable future, we continue to work with customers to implement these types of power saving innovations. At Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona, Deutsche Telekom used servers based on these processors to demonstrate its next generation 5G base stations The traffic on wireless networks shifts quickly and the fast reaction time of the processor means that idle cores enter a sleep mode during time periods when customer traffic is low and resume normal operation when traffic increases, reducing power consumption by 30-40%!  

Another key use case is with KDDI, a leading Japanese telecommunications operator. Within the data center housing its 5G communication facilities, KDDI reduced overall power consumption by 20% in a trial using Xeon Scalable processors. What’s exciting about this trial is that it represents Japan’s first verified test showing enhanced power-optimized performance for 5G networks.


Accelerating Infrastructure Processing Efficiently

In addition to the network, we must also consider a sustainable path for the future of the data center. Cloud data centers, for example, have a large amount of compute-heavy processing of data packets for encryption, packet forwarding, and other workloads. This infrastructure processing is done by the CPU, which cuts into compute capacity that is available for customers We’ve introduced a new class of product, called the Infrastructure Processing Units (IPU), which are dedicated products for these infrastructure compute needs. Using an IPU will free up more CPU capacity for customers while also consuming less power than doing the equivalent work on a CPU. For a hyperscale data center with thousands of servers, the efficiency advantage could be substantial.  

We’ve also taken this customization to the edge of the network – the Ethernet network adapter. Every server needs one and they too represent an opportunity to introduce a more sustainable approach. With the Dynamic Device Personalization (DDP) software for the Intel® Ethernet 800 Series, customers can configure packet processing capabilities for specific protocols and not waste energy examining each packet for bloated standardized protocols. When building a sustainable foundation, every packet counts! 


IoT solutions Bring Efficiencies   

When combined with IoT solutions, 5G delivers important business outcomes across industries. Our partner ecosystem are building amazing solutions that are good for our environment and our customers’ bottom lines by reducing operational costs, environmental impact and delivering more value.  Here are a few examples. 

In the transportation and logistics sector, we are working with our partner QuayChain Technologies on using Intel 5G technology to build a private network for the Utah Inland Port Authority. Connecting IOT sensors and using data analytics, improved logistics by reducing port congestion, minimizing truck idle time and streamlining the loading and unloading of cargo. The Port Authority has implemented this network as a precursor to move the entire operation to clean energy. 

In the energy sector, IoT is making a difference in the development of smart-grids that manage power consumption for consumers and businesses. In partnership with the Edge for Smart Secondary Substation (E4S) Alliance, Intel is developing smart-grid integrated Electric Vehicle (EV) charging that can manage charging EVs when demand is low and its best for the grid. Other IoT projects in this space include working on distributed renewable energy resource management and carbon footprint monitoring.  

This transformation is happening across all businesses and industries. Smart agriculture, is reducing energy and water consumption through intelligent sensors while also reducing operational costs; smart management of automobile and truck fleets will reduce carbon impact by optimizing routes, smart retailers and hoteliers are reducing operational costs through energy and water optimization…the potential in this space is really exciting 

We will continue to collaborate with and listen to our partners and customers on how we can identify and build these critical solutions for our people, our planet, and the communities that we live in…at the same time helping them implement solutions that deliver the performance improvements that their businesses demand.  

The commitment we are making today will work towards a better tomorrow.