Home Analysis Home Networks and Power Consumption – Why You Should Care

Home Networks and Power Consumption – Why You Should Care

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Consumer home networking equipment vendors and customers are traditionally not concerned with power consumption numbers. This is because, as standalone devices, they don’t consume enough power to fall into a government-regulated category. However, network video traffic and the market for networked video devices are growing at an exponential pace. This growth is paralleled with cost reduction and integration of networking components into traditional standalone video devices. It is almost unthinkable now to conceive of a non-networked video device. Unlike networking devices, their video counterparts generally consume significantly more power and therefore, they do come under the scrutiny of government regulators.

The list of power consumption regulations, proceedings and protocols (to address those regulations) has increased at an alarming rate, at least to those manufacturers and service providers deploying networked video devices. Just a short list of examples includes: the European Commission Voluntary Agreement for set-top boxes (STB), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EnergyStar), the U.S. Department of Energy and their recent STB regulatory efforts. Even the California Energy Commission has initiated efforts to regulate STBs. To meet these needs, groups like DLNA are developing low power guidelines; UPnP is developing an energy management protocol and, in the U.S., CableLabs has a reduced energy taskforce. Introducing power savings modes into all parts of the new generation of networked video devices has become crucial to meet the overall power reduction requirements.

The Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA®) has seen tremendous growth in deployments as it has surged to a commanding lead in wired home networking.

MoCA is used by service providers to distribute video content over in-home coaxial cable. It is estimated that by 2015 there will be 35 million homes with MoCA devices, the vast majority of them with MoCA integrated into video, router and gateway devices. The latest version of MoCA (MoCA 2.0) has been developed with power savings as a key component. MoCA allows for four different power savings modes, including Active, Idle, Standby and Sleep. These provide varying levels of power consumption with associated varying wake-up times (the deeper the sleep mode, the longer a STB takes to wake up).

MoCA 2.0 also introduces a Wake-on-MoCA (WoM) capability that enables a node to be remotely woken up if it is in an Idle or Standby mode. This is useful in a gateway-client architecture model. Consider, for example, a scenario where none of the gateway/client devices are in use and are in a sleep mode. A user wants to start watching TV on a client device that relies on the gateway to be active and receiving video to distribute to clients. The user directly wakes up the client and with WoM the client can remotely wake up the gateway.

As more service providers move to gateway-client architectures, the need for home networked power saving solutions becomes more evident. Meeting future STB power regulations requires a complex combination of capabilities from the network to the video subsystem to the application. MoCA 2.0 provides a key component of this with its advanced power savings modes, and service providers and equipment vendors need to be aware of all of the components that affect STB power and their mechanisms to aid in reducing power consumption.

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