Vitesse Semiconductor develops green Ethernet ICs

April 18, 2008 -- A software upgrade now available from Ethernet silicon supplier Vitesse Semiconductor delivers energy savings of up to 80% for the company's SimpliPHY, SparX, and G-RocX Ethernet IC semiconductors.

Apr 18th, 2008

April 18, 2008 -- Networking equipment suppliers promoting "green" electronics portfolios can activate energy-efficient functionality within their Ethernet-based electronics via a software upgrade now available from Ethernet silicon supplier Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. Vitesse says the upgrade delivers energy savings of up to 80 percent for its SimpliPHY, SparX, and G-RocX Ethernet IC semiconductors.

For energy savings equivalent above 400 mW per port, all three Ethernet IC product families are enhanced with two advanced energy savings technologies, says the company. ActiPHY is an automatic power savings mode that can detect unused Ethernet ports on network devices and power them down or place them in stand-by mode. PerfectReach is an intelligent algorithm that actively adjusts the power level needed based on cable length. Both of these features are already integrated into all SimpliPHY, SparX, and G-RocX devices currently in mass production and can be enabled via software upgrade.

The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet specification does not specify a standby power level whenever a link is not established. However, Vitesse's ActiPHY technology enables a physical layer Ethernet port to detect link loss and put the port into a sleep state, thereby reducing the port's power in existing devices by over 400mW. Using a proprietary energy detection circuit to filter random cable noise, ActiPHY detects the presence of link pulses, restores active power and puts the port back into normal operation. To ensure maximum interoperability when plugged into another Ethernet PHY with sleep capability, the device will wake up at a programmable rate and send a few link pulses to allow another sleeping device the opportunity to wake-up.

IEEE 802.3 Ethernet specifies 10/100/1000BASE-T copper PHYs to operate at 100 meters. The standard also expects these same PHYs to communicate at its maximum power cable reach even if it is plugged into a cable that can be as short as a single meter. The PerfectReach algorithm detects the presence of a shorter cable and then adaptively lowers the power level, saving energy for links shorter than the full 100 meters of cable length specified by IEEE standards.

Vitesse contends that heightened public awareness, surging network usage and the adoption of global legislation has increased demand for network equipment that operates with more energy efficiency for the benefit of businesses, consumers and the environment. OEMs are now seeking to deliver products to this emerging green-conscious customer segment by incorporating the ActiPHY and PerfectReach technology, maintains the company.

D-Link Systems now offers Gigabit Home/SOHO switch products that comply with RoHS [Restriction of Hazardous Substances] and achieve energy efficiency. "Our environmentally friendly products have enabled eco-conscious customers to embrace and benefit from green concepts with regard to their connectivity," says A.J. Wang, CTO for D-Link. "In a standard workday scenario, PCs are used for 10 hours a day, powered off for 14, and connected to a switch using 20 meter cables. D-Link's Green Ethernet on 8-, 16-, and 24-port switch products, powered by Vitesse's SparX products with ActiPHY and PerfectReach technologies, helped us bring to market [our] green Ethernet 8-port 10/100/1000BASE-T desktop switch that achieves power savings of up to 80-percent."

Corega, a computer networking manufacturer based in Japan, says it promotes green practices as an organization and within the solutions it delivers. "In our original switching products, an IEEE 802.3 Ethernet-compliant device that had no ports connected to a link still consumed nearly the comparable amount of power as a fully-utilized switch," says Sho Katoh, president of Corega. "By simply enabling Vitesse's ActiPHY automatic link down power savings technology via software, we are now able to save our customers a maximum of 65.8% of electric power in the presence of unused Ethernet ports."

Consumers wanting to take advantage of Vitesse's energy efficiency functionality should visit the company's EcoEthernet website for recommendations on network equipment manufacturers using its green Ethernet technologies. OEM vendors needing the software upgrade for SimpliPHY, SparX, and G-RocX ICs within their existing Ethernet products may contact their local Vitesse sales representative at www.vitesse.com/sales.

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