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Energy efficiency is a corner stone of sustainability in data center and high-performance networking. Yet, there is a notable structural mismatch between networking element development practices and experiential equipment utilization. In particular, some aspects of energy usage (such as elasticity) routinely remains out of focus at the system level, restricting emerging technologies like IEEE 802.3az to physical and datalink layers. Drawing from hands-on research and development in highspeed and grid networking, we identify a novel approach to energy efficiency in network engineering. In this paper, we demonstrate how the problem of efficient silicon design can be dissected into smaller sections based on the timescale of traffic processing. This new classification enables focused and concerted development that is tightly paired to resource and sustainability targets, which benefits devices on all network layers.