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Maximising energy efficiency

With the digital landscape advancing rapidly, the need for strong, energy-efficient network infrastructures is at an all-time high. PWC forecasts global data usage over telecom networks to almost triple by 2027. Thus, optimising energy consumption in telecom networks is critical. Here, Łukasz Bogdanik, development manager at telecommunication networks specialist Salumanus, explores the energy efficiency advancements of coherent modules.

 GSMA research shows telecom industry’s power use at 2-3 per cent globally. While 5G is 90 per cent more energy efficient, its expansion may spike energy usage due to network densification. Optical modules adapt, becoming smaller and more power efficient.


Miniaturisation and design

A notable trend in network infrastructures is the shrinking size of optical modules. Operators have moved from CFP to QSFP-DD, cutting power by half and boosting speed fourfold, now aiming for 400G solutions under 8W.

Advancements in optical module efficiency result from more than just MSA standard changes. Semiconductor innovations like InP or SiP allow deeper integration of module components. Previously, lasers, amplifiers, modulators, drivers, and CDR systems were separate.

Leveraging these new semiconductor materials and processes, many of these functionalities are now seamlessly integrated into a singular, multifunctional system constructed on a unified semiconductor structure. This integration not only significantly enhances the transmission parameters of these systems but also reduces power consumption compared to systems comprising discrete elements.

Aggregation for higher bitrates

Aggregating traffic for higher bitrates is made possible by the introduction of new-generation modules with increased bit rates, enabling the consolidation of traffic from older modules with lower bit rates. To illustrate, consider the task of concentrating 128 100G links. In the first scenario, installing four switches, each featuring 32 slots of 100G ports and consuming around 600W,results in a cumulative power consumption of approximately 2400 W. Adding the power usage of 128 QSFP28 LR4 optical modules brings the total power consumption to 2850 W.

Alternatively, in the second scenario, employing a switch equipped with 32 slots of QSFP-DD ports leads to a power consumption of 1300 W for the switch, and with 32 slots of 400G QSFP-DD LR4 modules, the total power consumption is 1550 W. Functionally equivalent, the latter solution, utilising a switch supporting 400G throughput, yields a notable 45 per cent energy savings and reduces the rack cabinet space requirement by four times, offering additional cost-effectiveness.

Coherent modules for access networks

In locations requiring the aggregation of traffic from densely deployed antennas, directing it to higher network levels often involves employing 10G DWDM optical modules, with aggregated channels achieving higher throughputs. Assuming the establishment of ten such connections, resulting in a total transfer of 100Gb, the power consumption for this aggregated link amounts to 30 W.

However, the sustainable multiplication of such aggregations becomes impractical given the swiftly escalating volume of traffic in this network segment. The QSFP28 interface is a module boasting a 100G bit rate, utilising coherent signal modulation, and remarkably consuming only 5.5 W. This coherent 100G and 5.5 W module can seamlessly integrate into the ports of existing switches and routers at the network’s edge, eliminating the need for replacement. With this groundbreaking solution, we achieve the transmission of every gigabit of information with a remarkable 63 per cent reduction in energy consumption compared to a set of 10 x 10G connections.

Trends like miniaturisation, semiconductor strategies and aggregation can make a real impact in the overall energy efficiency of network infrastructures. By embracing innovative solutions in optical modules, businesses can not only navigate the energy challenges effectively but also contribute to a more sustainable and greener future.


At Salumanus, we are committed to helping network operators and data centre owners achieve optimised and energy efficient solutions for their infrastructures and providing the latest optical modules designed with sustainability in mind.

To find out more about the solutions we offer at Salumanus, visit

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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