Game changing DC power – coming to a Data Centre near you


As power densities increase, colocation and hyperscale data center operators need to maximise every opportunity to reduce power consumption – and associated costs. One such opportunity is to use energy saving 380V direct current (DC) which could be a game changer for the entire data center industry.

Today, the industrial world uses power based on alternating current; there is, however, a movement towards using DC power sources in a wide variety of applications, including sustainable power (photovoltaics, wind and fuel cells), microgrids (residential and small commercial) and data centers.

Telecommunications Systems and DC Power

Already proven within the telecommunications sector, telco companies have successfully used DC power solutions for decades. Historically exchanges have operated on -48VDC for reasons of safety, durability (lack of cathodic corrosion), fault tracing and easy battery integration.

A driving force behind innovation and learning in this sector – and helping to deliver learnings to wider industry – is the Open Compute Project (OCP). Created as a collaborative community to support the growing demands on compute infrastructure, the OCP is an organization that shares designs of data center products among companies including Facebook, IBM, Intel, Nokia, Google, Microsoft, Seagate Technology, Dell, Rackspace, Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, Lenovo and Alibaba Group.

When Facebook found it was outgrowing its traditional infrastructure in 2009, the business initiated a project to design the world’s most energy efficient data center. In 2011, Facebook shared these designs and launched the OCP in conjunction with Intel, Rackspace, Goldman Sachs and Andy Bechtolsheim.

The mission of the group is to spur rapid innovation across a global community, sharing intellectual property in order to encourage the IT industry to evolve. The Open Compute Summit recently started a group dedicated to telecommunications technology firms that deploy DC solutions. In 2016, Google announced development of a 48V rack solution, and is working with Facebook and others to further the development of a DC solution within the Open Compute environment.

Deploying DC Power Solutions in Data Centers

Modern data centers typically rely on traditional AC voltage to DC voltages at the server (i.e. utility power –> primary/secondary power distribution systems –> uninterruptible power supply [UPS] –> power distribution unit [PDU] –> server). Each conversion causes losses in an environment where efficiency is key.

The Pros of 380V DC Power

Clearly, the success of DC solutions within the telecommunications industry can bring highly transferrable advantages to every sector – whether creating a new facility or upgrading existing infrastructure with a simple retrofit.

When deploying a 380V DC solution to power critical data center equipment instead of AC power, efficiency has been proven to increase by between 8% and 10%, with more efficient 380V DC motors and controls being used. With increased reliability and fewer conversions, both upfront expenditure and operating costs are lower. Furthermore, with a simpler design and implementation, system maintenance costs are reduced. Physical space requirements are less – with smaller bus and copper sizes being used – so more server area white space is available. Distributed energy storage can be used in DC systems and 380V DC microgrids can be developed.

Is DC Power Right for Your Data Center?

DC power solutions are just one way that data center owners and operators can save money and energy. With careful planning and design, and working with the right partner, every data center can benefit from the unique advantages that DC power has to offer.

Able to monitor not only energy consumption, the higher end voltage and current modules can also monitor power quality events and max demand – enabling better, more informed decision making.

Furthermore, the accuracy of measurements is guaranteed according to IEC 61557-12; class 0.5 from 2% to 120% of the nominal current on the global chain when associated with the Digiware sensors.

Digiware centralizes measurements for the main incoming circuit, all sub feeds and branch-circuits locally then communicates them to DCIM / EMS / SCADA / BMS software solutions over multiple open protocols (MODBUS, SNMP and BAC net).

By delivering a compact and powerful solution to track power usage – for both main and individual circuits – Diris Digiware is ideal for any current rating, for a large number of circuits and for new or existing installations using solid core or split-core current sensors.

Thanks to the system’s voltage adaptors, Diris Digiware is suitable for both telecoms sites (-48 VDC) and more recent data center and electrical infrastructures operating at higher voltages such as 380VDC.

To learn how DC power – and Diris Digiware – could benefit your facility please call 01462 44 00 33

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