DC power makes modular data centers even more efficient

There’s more to building an efficient data center than virtualization, advanced energy monitoring and renewables. Two technology companies — ABB and IO — say data centers could be made 10 to 20 percent more efficient by using direct current (DC), rather than alternating current (AC), power.

The two firms have teamed up to develop a new, DC-powered¬†data center module — the first ever, in fact. They expect to complete the development by the end of this year.

Making data centers as energy efficient as possible remains a challenge as the demand for networking and data storage continues to rise. Data centers typically consume 15 times more energy per square foot than a typical office building and, especially as they need to operate 24/7, can be up to 100 times as energy intensive as other buildings.

Because of this, an increasing number of data centers are adopting DC-powered technology as it reduces power conversion losses and is 10 to 20 percent more energy efficient than standard AC devices. DC-powered systems can also reduce complexity and require less space, which decreases equipment, installation and maintenance costs.

ABB has made it a goal to expand its DC-powered offerings. It recently announced plans to design and install an advanced DC-power distribution system for green.ch, a Swiss information and communications technology service provider. And this past May, ABB gained a controlling interest in Validus DC Systems, which provides DC power infrastructure equipment.

Designed to be portable and easily packaged together, modular data centers can be manufactured and deployed more rapidly than traditional data center buildouts.

“The data center has always been DC powered; every device in the data center uses DC power inside,” said George D. Slessman, CEO of IO. By combining IO’s OS and modular data center platform, he added, “we can now deliver the entire data center from the source on DC power, while providing flexibility to deliver AC power where and when needed.”

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