To increase the energy efficiency of Ethernet networks, in 2010, the IEEE published the IEEE 802.3az amendment, known as Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE). The amendment introduces a new operational mode, defined as Low Power Idle (LPI), that allows to considerably reduce the power consumption of inactive Ethernet links. In this paper, we address the application of EEE to Real-Time Ethernet (RTE) networks, the popular communication systems typically employed in factory automation, characterized by tight timing requirements.
We start with a description of the EEE basics and, subsequently, focus on the introduction of EEE in the industrial communication scenario. Then, we specifically address the implementation of effective EEE strategies for some popular RTE networks. The analysis is carried out on configurations commonly deployed at low levels of factory automation systems. The obtained results show that considerable power savings can be achieved with very limited impact on network performance.