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“Measuring and Reducing Set Top Box Power Use”. International Stakeholder Workshop June 29, 2005 By Noah Horowitz Senior Scientist NRDC [email protected] Today’s Meeting. Go over energy and environmental impacts of set top box power use.

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Measuring and reducing set top box power use l.jpg

“Measuring and Reducing Set Top Box Power Use”

International Stakeholder Workshop

June 29, 2005

By Noah Horowitz

Senior Scientist


[email protected]

Today s meeting l.jpg
Today’s Meeting

  • Go over energy and environmental impacts of set top box power use.

  • Explore feasibility of reducing overall box energy use, especially during extended periods of set top box inactivity.

  • Share information on research and policy developments from around the world.

  • Discuss test methods, operating modes, and performance metrics.

  • Create process for ongoing communication and collaboration.

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Who is NRDC?

  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

  • Environmental advocacy group with more than 600,000 members.

  • Air/Energy program interested in reducing global warming pollution and protecting public health.

  • Long track record of collaboration with industry and policy makers on energy efficiency (monitors, soda machines, computers, lighting).

Energy efficiency l.jpg
Energy Efficiency

“Deliver same level of performance

while using less energy”

  • Efficiency gains through improved designs, more efficient components, etc.

  • Reduce user’s operating costs. Extremely cost effective.


  • Policies should be performance based, not prescriptive. Encourage innovation.

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Today’s Scope

  • Cable and satellite set top boxes

    • Analog and high definition (HD)

    • Multifunction including built-in digital video recorders (DVRs)

    • Focus on new boxes to be deployed, not retrofitting existing ones

  • For today, exclude:

    • DTAs – digital TV adapters (digital to analog)

    • Game Box Consoles (X-Box, etc.)

    • CableCARDs integrated in TVs

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Why Set Tops?

  • More than 80% of U.S. homes have cable or satellite TV.

  • Many of these customers have 1 or more set top boxes.

  • Per box power use increasing because new boxes have added functionality (dual tuners, recording/storage capability, HD, etc.)

  • Number of new full featured boxes expected to grow dramatically.

  • Set tops consume ~ 1% of national residential electricity use and projected to increase by up to 75% by 2008.

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Highlights of NRDC/Ecos Research

  • Set top boxes draw between 10 and 30+ Watts all day long.

  • Pressing “off” button has no significant impact on power use.

  • Most boxes do not have sleep mode. (always “fully on”)

  • Annual power consumption of new full featured HD boxes with DVRs approximately 200-300 kWh/yr.

  • Household set top box annual energy use (for homes with multiple boxes) approaching that of a new refrigerator.

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Set Top Environmental Overview

  • Power plants largest source of CO2, mercury emissions

  • If no efficiency gains made in new set top box designs:

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Set Top Box (STB) Primer

  • To date, service provider (eg Time Warner, Direct TV, etc.) buys the box and gives or leases the box to their customer.

  • Customer, not box purchaser, pays the electric bill (“split incentive”).

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Unique Challenges

Service providers need to maintain continuous connectivity to the boxes in their system

  • Send updates – program guide, encryption codes (prevent theft)

  • Ability for two way communication (eg. pay per view

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Low Power Mode Challenge

  • Box not being used by the consumer for most of the day. Typical use 4 to 6 hours/day.

  • Can box enter low power mode due to user action or after extended period of inactivity, but still “wake” in response to head end or user signal?

  • Good analogies – cell phones (uses a lot less power during standby, but always connected and ready to take a call; computer sleep mode).

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More Low Power Mode Thoughts

  • Box should enter this mode when:

    • User pushes the STB power button to off or hits STB remote (unlikely)

    • After extended period of inactivity

    • After completing service provider induced update

    • After recording pre-scheduled show

  • TiVo type issues – hard drive spinning, and speculative recording

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Efficiency Gains May Require

  • STB modifications

  • “Head-end” modifications

    - Wake and sleep protocols developed and used

  • Will likely need changes in both software and hardware. Proactive coordination between various stakeholders will be needed.

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The Potential

If US adopted a similar approach to Australia, we could:

  • Avoid the need for 3 large (500 MW) power plants

  • Prevent 10 million tons/yr of CO2 emissions, a major global warming pollutant. This is equal to taking all the cars off the road from a city the size of Philadelphia for a year.

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Lots of Worldwide Activity

  • EU working to create Code of Conduct.

  • Australians have established mandatory performance standards (MEPS)

  • China very interested in this topic. Current focus DTAs, more complex set tops next.

  • EPA ENERGY STAR – voluntary labeling program. Current spec suspended, planning to reissue in future.

  • Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Working Group created

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Worldwide Harmonization

  • Recognize national markets around the world vary considerably as do local broadcasting requirements. One size fits all spec probably unrealistic.

  • To the extent possible worldwide harmonization desirable for modes, test methods, capabilities, etc.

  • Goal is to reduce burden on STB manufacturers and to achieve energy savings at lowest cost

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Today’s Ground Rules

  • Today is not a negotiation or an attempt to set power levels.

  • Dialogue to focus on test methods, modes, and what is possible.

  • Aim for constructive discussion/strive for collaboration

  • Please participate. Lots of meeting dedicated to open discussion.

  • Avoid talking about specific pricing, trades secrets, etc.

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Link to NRDC/Ecos Paper


  • Includes raw data on set top box field measurements