Green Ethernet moves closer as regulations loom

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D-Link unveils Green Ethernet desktop switches, boasting energy savings of up to 44 percent.

More energy-efficient network technology moved a step closer last week after networking vendor D-Link unveiled a new range of Green Ethernet desktop switches, boasting energy savings of up to 44 percent compared to traditional models.

D-Link said the Gigabit Ethernet desktop switches, which are aimed at home users and small businesses, include new intelligent chip technology that is capable of detecting when PCs connected to them are turned off and powering down the switches.

The new products can also detect the length of the attached network cable and adjust power use accordingly. By contrast, traditional switches typically operate using enough power to support 100m long cables despite the fact average network cable lengths are no longer than 10m.

Chris Davies, general manager for D-Link in the UK, said the new switches would be available before the end of the year and marked the first step in a plan to roll out intelligent power management capabilities across its entire portfolio throughout 2008.

"We are seeing massive interest from customers in energy efficiency and we want to meet that demand," he said. "The aim of this technology is to not just deliver savings in energy use, cost and carbon emissions, but because the switches are not running so hot it should also extend their usable life."

Davies added that the company would make the new switches available with no price premium compared to traditional models.

The new switch technology pre-empts moves by the IEEE standards body on its 802.3 specification for Energy Efficient Ethernet technologies. However, with the specification yet to be ratified and standardised products not expected until 2012, Davies insisted there was room for individual vendors to develop their own energy-efficient network technologies that are still likely to be compatible with the imminent standards.

The launch came as Gordon Brown signalled the possibility of more stringent environmental legislation in his first speech to the Labour Party Conference as Prime Minister. Speaking about the government's proposed Climate Change Bill, Brown acknowledged concerns among environmentalists that the target of a 60 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 may be too lax and announced that he would ask the new independent climate change committee to report if the proposed legally binding targets "should be even stronger still".

His comments came a week after Gillian Merron, a cabinet office minister speaking at an e-government conference in Lisbon, said the UK Chief Information Officer’s Council needs to reduce the carbon footprint of its IT.

“The government is by far the biggest user of IT in the UK, spending around £12bn a year,” Merron said. “We have a responsibility to set a positive example on the environment.”

In related news BT recently became the latest vendor to launch a carbon auditing service to help organisations measure and reduce emissions, while Sun Microsystems unveiled a new online community site designed to help organisations develop and share best practices for calculating, reporting and reducing carbon emissions.

Described by the IT giant as "a Facebook for the Eco-Warrior", the new site aims to emulate the success of open-source software development projects by providing a free and open forum for environmentally-conscious business executives to share data and best practices.
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