USF Grad Student’s Greener Internet Ideas Win Award

TAMPA, Fla. (Jun. 4, 2008) – The Internet uses too much energy and costs too much according to Francisco Blanquicet, a graduate student in the University of South Florida’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering. His suggestions for making the Internet greener and more cost-efficient have earned him an award from the Ethernet Alliance® University Program.

         Blanquicet’s white paper, “PAUSE Power Cycle: A New Backwards Compatible Method to Reduce Energy Use of Ethernet Switches,” was selected as the winning paper in the Ethernet Alliance University Program’s White Paper Challenge. Blanquicet’s paper was chosen for its “green” potential for reducing power in data centers and enterprise Ethernet networks.

         According to industry experts, the current Internet is consuming large and growing amounts of electricity. The energy consumed by the Internet, and the devices that connect to it, costs about $15 billion per year in the U.S. alone, say some sources. Efforts to make the future Internet more energy efficient by allowing the network to sleep, or slowdown is a focus of research. New methods aimed at reducing costs associated with power consumption in routers and switches are in development.

Accordingly, research to reduce this energy consumption and its CO2 footprint are underway at USF.

          “Francisco’s work is part of a larger research project at USF that is funded by the National Science Foundation and Cisco aimed at examining ways to reduce the Internet’s energy consumption,” says Ken Christensen, a professor in the USF Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Blanquicet’s advisor. “The Pause Power Cycle for Ethernet Francisco is studying - if adopted - has the potential to save hundreds of millions of dollars in electricity costs in the U.S. alone.”

          “Francisco’s paper on PAUSE Power Cycle was the kind of thought leadership and research we were looking for in this competition,” said Brad Booth, chairman of the board, Ethernet Alliance. “It is very encouraging to have students providing a different view on how to use existing and emerging Ethernet standards, especially for providing a greener network. Francisco set a high bar for students participating in the Ethernet Alliance University Program in the years to come.”

          “Our research, and Francisco’s specifically,” says Christensen, “is at the edge of the Internet, in the first level routers and switches and end devices. It’s an area in which there has been little research for reducing energy use.”

          The goals of such research are about reducing operating costs, reducing CO2 emissions, producing less energy-related heat and reducing energy use to enable the use of smaller batteries.

           “Because energy-efficiency has become a major factor in the development of network devices, the main contribution of this work is that it allows for the use of existing mechanisms, but in a slightly different way, to save energy,” explains Blanquicet.

           Christensen and Blanquicet presented this work at the Ethernet Alliance booth at Interop 2008, an industry trade show held earlier this year in Las Vegas.

           “It created a lot of buzz,” said Christensen.

           “On top of that, winning the Ethernet Alliance White Paper Challenge was a great honor,” said Blanquicet.

           Blanquicet was also part of the USF student team advised by Christensen that developed the USF “Intelligent Scarecrow,” which took second place in international competition in Microsoft’s Third Annual Windows Embedded Student Challenge in 2006.

            The Ethernet Alliance is a member-driven, not-for-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting industry awareness, acceptance and advancement of technology and products based on existing and emerging IEEE 802® Ethernet standards. The Ethernet Alliance University Program is a global initiative that serves as a forum for universities and educational organizations within the Ethernet Alliance to work directly with industry leaders, acquire practical perspectives of academic theories, and help foster the growth of Ethernet.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

– USF –