Data Transmission in Transition: The cost of energy weighs heavily

A look into the in depth world of coding.
Published On
Jul 15, 2022

We demand Data daily for business, personal use, physical security, safety, operations and more. Getting this information to the right person or device is an energy-intensive process that requires power and electricity at ever-escalating costs.

As information needs spiral upward, data transmission strategies must adapt, with energy efficiency being the next focus area for communication technology.

Data infrastructure has seen great progress over the past 30 years. However, there has been very little future advancement in the PC board, jack connections and shielded cable/wire, said Brett D. Robinson, president and chief design and test engineer for Robinson’s Engineering Consultants LLC (REC), Mesa, Ariz.

Robinson has been promoting “a true path forward” for the data transmission and security industries—an energy-efficient infrastructure that enables higher data availability while saving 80% or more in energy costs. REC specializes in design and testing for electromagnetic interference (EMI)/electromagnetic pulse (EMP)/electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)/TREE, lightning mitigation and high-speed communications.

Robinson co-authored the white paper “Green Cabling Infrastructure Design of the Future” on a new data cabling design created with other stakeholders. He and REC are working with Pierre Bourgeix, senior partner and co-founder at Butchko ESI, Houston; David Hess, consultant with Cord Data, Reading, Pa.; and Robert Brennan, CEO of Sentinel Connector Systems Inc., York, Pa., on the infrastructure solution, which is currently in being used by leading manufacturers of test equipment around the world.

The power struggle is real

“Although chip technology has advanced with Nvidia, AMD and Intel battling for greater processing capability, this has done little to help the global strain on energy and power consumption,” Robinson said. “The data transmission and security industries have been battling with the pull of technology advancements and its effects on worldwide resources. Our white paper clearly delineates the path to success for energy efficiency with an infrastructure which enables higher data availability while lowering power consumption.”

The solution includes RJ45 stripline products, shielded cabling and unique PCB materials designed for high speeds above 5 gigahertz, in production at Sentinel Connector Systems. [Stripline is a transverse electromagnetic transmission line medium.]

Additional features include the Cat 8/25g shielded (stripline) RJ45 jack, Class 1 shielded tempest high-speed, low-resistance copper cables, plus “path of least resistance” Femto-based circuit boards in lieu of traditional FR-4 composite material.

The new cabling infrastructure design does not require magnetic transformers, baluns or amplification ASICs, which can damage equipment and create inefficient power and energy use. This solution incorporates EMI/EMP/transient energy protection and cybersecurity in a hardened footprint.

Time to max out?

Robinson said performance of commercially available data communications transceivers and standard cabling links are approaching theoretical maximum channel capacity.

“Some of this is being accomplished at the expense of energy efficiency by using copious amounts of analog equalization, digital signal processing and error-correction algorithms, all using more power,” he said. “While UTP cables serve their limited purpose very well, shielded cables offer the possibility of going much farther and faster using less power.”

Green infrastructure of the future

The solution, which Brennan calls the “green infrastructure of the future,” is a complete replacement product requiring a one-time capital outlay, with a clear, 3-year return on investment, Robinson said, who has conducted extensive research, testing and proof-of-concept at his laboratory.

The solution is making inroads into data center and system design, and systems integrators need to know that the infrastructure is shifting in this direction, Bourgeix said.

“The cabling side to the endpoint is going to change, and we need to look at the infrastructure of our world,” he said. “There are presently 78 billion devices in the market and 100 to 200 billion expected in 2–3 years—endpoints like nodes, cameras, systems at the edge—that are all affected by heat. The cost of cooling is weighing heavy from a green, energy-efficiency perspective.”

Conversations in the data center world, he said, now focus on migrating to endpoints. Adoption is beginning, and if ECs don’t understand it, they won’t be able to bid on this work. “We’re building the road map so it’s simple to adopt.”

“We’ve reduced the infrastructure footprint while lowering costs, increasing productivity and providing EMP protection in a single solution,” Bourgeix said.

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