A Holistic Power View of 5G

Could the billions and billions of devices IoT promised by the rollout of 5G have an unintended impact of destabilizing or even taking down the grid? That was a question that bothered Brian Zahnstecher last year. Zahnstecher, Principal at PowerRox is well-positioned to answer this question, as he and his firm consult on power electronics at both the system and circuit level .

His recent article, the 5G Energy Gap, explains how the inefficiencies between core and the edge of the network can amount to a six order of magnitude Power Cost Factor. In layman’s terms, 99% of the energy used to get a signal from one point on the network to another is wasted over the entire Power Value Chain.

Speaking at the Consultants Network of Silicon Valley (CNSV), one of the themes of Zahnstecher’s talk was the use of Energy Harvesting to provide local power for IoT devices. In his presentation, he spoke of multiple harvesting technologies, including photovoltaic, thermoelectric generation, piezoelectric transducers, and RF solutions, along with mini-storage solutions from flexible batteries to supercapacitors.

As he also pointed out in his CNSV talk, the best Watt is the one that isn’t consumed. In other words, a good design starts by looking at the entire picture, understanding the interplay between different circuits, modules, and software and then optimizing the system as a whole. To that end, Zahnstecher was appointed co-chair of the IEEE, International Network Generations Roadmap (INGR) Energy Efficiency Working Group, which is focused on the energy impact of 5G networks. Stay tuned to the CNSV website for the video of his presentation.


Note: Viodi is a CNSV member