Planting the green edge

by Philip Low, Chairman, BroadGroup

Looking ahead, how will energy be mitigated through Edge or other developments and innovation? Smart, connected systems will only use the power they need. These systems will sense when maintenance is needed, and thereby significantly reduce the resources required in nearly every industry.

Edge computing helps minimize bandwidth use and server resources. Forecasts suggest 50-75 billion IoT devices will be connected by 2025; in order to support all those devices, significant amounts of computation will have to be moved to the edge.

Edge will produce a virtuous circle of decreased latency, reduced bandwidth use and associated cost and a lower demand for server resources and associated cost.

Core cloud-based analytics are now being reduced in size to run efficiently on the edge.

Green is being baked into the hardware and software technologies for edge and 5G systems.

The aim is to push energy utilization down significantly. One of the novel technologies being considered for example is Radio Frequency (RF) harvesting: converting energy in transmitted radio waves to user devices or even wireless infrastructure.

5G technology will reduce transportation and manufacturing-related energy use through the replacement of physical goods and services with digital equivalents.


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Allied to these developments, data centre solutions providers are increasingly focused on liquid or immersive cooling systems to sustain a reduction in energy consumption.

The emergence of other new energy saving products not yet imagined.
Challenges remain, and in particular a lack of a standardised framework among edge providers.

OCP-AU is being proposed as the global future standard for Edge. However, the shift to Edge seems inexorable and with is a massive new market opportunity, and combined with a new energy aware approach will positively transform the way in which data and communications develops in the years ahead.

The concept of Edge Computing is predicated on moving some of the computational load towards the edge of the network to exploit greater processing capabilities that are currently untapped in edge nodes, such as base stations, routers and switches as well as what will become available in edge micro data centres, roadside cabinets and edge facilities powered by AI.

Cloud based systems increase the number of connected IoT devices, amount of data generated and total bandwidth requirements.

In the case of Edge, this extends to connected cars, wearable technologies, smart buildings and cities, manufacturing facilities, connected healthcare, smart agriculture systems and a host of additional use cases.

The transmission of data to a central cloud is a power-hungry operation, and Edge helps to mitigate this demand through removing part of the computation away from cloud, distributing the power load among the nodes of the system.

Edge is also encouraging the development of low power techniques in hardware architectures.

This includes 5G which promises anytime, anywhere connectivity that works 20 times faster than the previous generation, opening the door to a wide variety of new services and potential solutions.

Indeed, some argue that 5G could help the sector reduce CO2 emissions by 1.5 gigatons by 2030.

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