GreenTouch And Climate Savers Tackle Power Issues

March 10, 2010
In his editorial for Electronic Design's One Powerful Issue, Editor-in-Chief Joe Desposito describes the work of the GreenTouch initiative and the Climate Savers Computing Power Management Workgroup.

Welcome to Electronic Design’s annual One Powerful Issue. As you can see, most of the articles in this edition deal with some aspect of power. To go along with this theme, I thought I would write about a couple of power developments as well.


Announced in January, the GreenTouch Initiative is a global consortium initially organized by Bell Labs. Its goal is to create the technologies that are needed to make communications networks 1000 times more energy efficient than they are today.

GreenTouch is now bringing together leaders in industry, academia, and government labs to invent and deliver radical new approaches to energy efficiency. Its founding members include service providers like AT&T, academic research labs like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), government and nonprofit research organizations such as IMEC of Leuven, Belgium, and companies such as Freescale Semiconductor.

This 1000-fold efficiency target is based on research from Bell Labs. Essentially, researchers have determined that today’s information and communication technology (ICT) networks have the potential to be 10,000 times more efficient then they are today.

This conclusion comes from a Bell Labs analysis of the fundamental properties of ICT networks and technologies (optical, wireless, electronics, processing, routing, and architecture) and studying their physical limits by applying established formulas such as Shannon’s Law.

To support its objectives, the GreenTouch Initiative will deliver within five years a reference network architecture and demonstrations of the key components required to realize this improvement. This initiative also offers the potential to generate new technologies and new areas of industry.

At its launch, the group also issued an open invitation to all members of the ICT community to join forces in reaching this ambitious target. Huawei, for example, joined the consortium as a founding member just last month to bring the total number of members to 16.

The GreenTouch Initiative also reached a crucial milestone in its development last month, convening an inaugural meeting of its founding members to establish an operating framework, set out guidelines for intellectual property management, and define technology parameters. Videos about the GreenTouch mission are available at


The second development comes from the Climate Savers Computing Power Management Workgroup. Technology industry leaders such as Dell, Fujitsu, Google, Hitachi, HP, Intel, Lenovo, LSI, Microsoft, and NEC Corp. have released a design guide that addresses general design principles for making power management faster and more reliable.

The CSCI Power Management System Design Guide, which is available online at, addresses specific reliability challenges of sleep state standby (S3) technology. It also offers instructions for building energy-efficient, power-managed client platforms that will result in a positive user experience.

“Ninety percent of desktops do not use power management, even though today’s computers support this feature in their operating systems, power-management software, and platform components and design,” says Pat Tiernan, executive director of Climate Savers Computing.

To get users to take advantage of power-management features, the group has identified and removed obstacles to the adoption of power management in desktop and notebook computers. Technical barriers addressed in the CSCI Power Management System Design Guide include networking protocol and hardware and software latencies that adhere to the forthcoming Ecma Network Proxy Standard.

“By offering solutions to various technical issues, we hope the design guide will lead to an increased deployment of computer power management across the board, with improved designs leading to greater consumer adoption,” said Tiernan.

Adopting power management can generate computing energy savings up to 60% without impacting productivity or performance. Implementing power management allows a desktop or laptop to quickly transition into and out of a lower-energy state, consuming as little as 3 to 5 W versus more than 50 W when left in the idle state.

About the Author

Joe Desposito | Editor-in-Chief

Joe is Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Design magazine.


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