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The business case for 800GE routing in the age of sustainability

The business case for 800GE routing

Internet traffic grows an average of 30 percent year over year, with related energy consumption and carbon emissions increasing in lockstep. But carbon emissions must be halved by the end of this decade to meet the UN’s 2030 Climate Target Plan – putting immense pressure on network operators. 

800GE routing helps operators meet these growing bandwidth and sustainability needs by enabling faster IP networks that scale up more efficiently by using less available energy and real estate. 

Quantifying the benefits of 800GE routing: A five-year study

With the above challenge in mind, we wanted to quantify the efficiency benefits of 800GE routing in a network context. So, Nokia Bell Labs Consulting conducted a detailed comparison of the scaling properties of 400GE and 800GE routing solutions over a five-year period with cumulative traffic growth of 30 percent annually. The study was based on a reference edge and core network encompassing low-density (regional/suburban) and high-density (metro/urban) access aggregation using Nokia service routers.

The study’s key take-away?

We found that upgrading to 800GE routing interfaces powered by FP5 silicon, Nokia’s next-generation network processor, can achieve significant energy efficiency gains of up to 55 percent (including optics) compared to 400GE deployments based on FP4 hardware. With FP5 hardware operators can route double the amount of traffic as their current 400GE network, and accommodate up to four times more capacity, in the same rack space with the same energy footprint. 

Figure 1. Comparing energy efficiency of 400GE and 800GE routing

Figure 1

Figure 1 illustrates IP traffic growth against network energy consumption through incremental capacity increases. The black bars show the energy that current 400GE routers would require to keep pace with exponential traffic growth shown in the yellow line, while the blue bars show the energy consumption of 800GE routers equipped with FP5 silicon. The dotted red arrow pointing up indicates the break-even point where FP5 routers with 800GE optics consume as much energy as FP4 routers equipped with 400GE optics, while carrying double the amount of traffic. 

Analyzing the efficiency gains of 800GE routing

By far the biggest contributor to these notable gains in IP network efficiency is next-generation routing silicon. That’s because it drives the capacity, density, and energy consumption of IP switching fabric, line cards, and interface optics. Indeed, leveraging higher-density 7 nm silicon technology has enabled us to integrate packet processing, traffic management, high-bandwidth memories, and switch fabric interfaces in a single system on a chip (SoC). 

As a result, the FP5 forwarding complex: 

  • Takes up 70 percent less space than the 16nm FP4 chipset
  • Delivers almost 4x more line rate traffic capacity per line card
  • Consumes 75 percent less energy per bit (excluding interface optics) 

Total network energy savings were lower (55 percent) in our study than the FP5’s energy savings per bit because common energy-using components such as fans, power entry modules, and management and control cards are not affected by the FP5 upgrade. 

Along with being more efficient, FP5 hardware is also very flexible: Operators deploying FP5 hardware may initially deploy 100GE and 400GE optics and upgrade to 800GE later to efficiently accommodate future traffic growth. Because 800G QSFP-DD connectors are backwards compatible, they can scale from 100 to 800Gb/s simply by equipping faster optics and using optical breakout to aggregate traffic from multiple 100GE or 400GE ports into a single 800GE port.

Figure 2. Efficiency gains from upgrading to 800GE optics

Figure 2Figure 3

The study found that upgrading all interface ports of IP aggregation, edge, and core routers from 400GE to 800GE could save up to 30 percent in energy costs on pluggable optics and require up to 47 percent fewer connections to be provisioned and managed (Figure 2). 

While the study did not quantify the operational savings of operating a faster IP network with fewer link connections, these are likely proportional to the reduced number of managed objects. Using faster 800GE links also reduces packet latency and gives more headroom for traffic peaks and future growth.

Sustainable growth with 800GE routing

800GE routing is rapidly gaining momentum among communication service providers, carrier neutral operators, cloud providers, and internet exchange providers to address their need to sustainably grow capacity. But energy and real estate are expensive resources always in limited supply that have the potential to seriously stifle network growth. 

Nokia 800GE routing solutions help overcome these restrictions by offering 2x to 4x more capacity than 400GE routers in the same resource footprint. The solution leverages Nokia’s FP5 silicon for best-in-class energy efficiency and industry-leading support of faster 800G QSFP-DD optics. FP5 is also backwards compatible with previous generations of FP routing silicon, allowing operators to introduce 800GE routing with full support of all SR OS operating system capabilities and service features on Day 1.

More information on Nokia 800GE routing is available here. For a detailed report on the Nokia Bell Labs Consulting study, please contact your Nokia sales representative. 

Arnold Jansen

About Arnold Jansen

Arnold is a senior solution marketing manager in Nokia’s Network Infrastructure business division and responsible for promoting IP routing products and solutions. Arnold has held a number of roles in research and innovation, sales, product management, and marketing during his 25 years in the telecommunications industry. He holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Science from the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

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