Slowing down the internet saves energy?

According to NewScientistTech, it does. Actually, what scientists at the University of California and Intel Research Labs are finding is that by delaying data flow into a network for just a few milliseconds, data centers can achieve energy savings of up to 50%.

This small delay is enough to smooth out bursts and lulls in the overall data flow, which allows the network hardware to run at an overall slower speed.  Another technique allows data to be grouped into fewer and larger bursts, which would let the hardware go into sleep mode in the short time between chunks of data.  You pick your technique depending on the size of the network and the usage.  During times of less traffic (nights and weekends, for example), you could use the sleep technique, while during periods of heavy traffic, you would switch to the smoothing technique. Simulations are showing between 40 to 80% savings of the energy used by the network’s hardware with these techniques.

Microsoft is also getting into the act. Researchers at Redmond are testing something called load skewing, where new connections are sent to servers that are already active and have other connections and are busy. This allows the low load servers to go into sleep mode. Of course if the load on the busy servers starts to increase, then the idle servers will be pressed back into duty. In a 45 day real world test on Microsoft’s chat system, they cut energy use by about 30%, “without any perceived effect in user experience.”

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