Big Data Can Shrink Footprint with DC Power

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By Paula Melton

As data centers grow in size, number, and importance, the need to reduce their massive energy use—much of which is due to equipment and space cooling—is growing as well. While some strategies focus on the equipment itself and others on how it’s cooled, trade group EMerge Alliance has a different take: why not provide power that doesn’t heat up the computers so much in the first place? The incompatibility between the direct current (DC) used by electronics and the alternating current (AC) provided by the grid, the group claims, not only heats up the equipment unnecessarily but also leads to conversion losses and premature failures. The group has just released a new standard for integrating DC-powered data centers with AC that comes directly from the grid (and may still be needed to power other parts of the building). Onsite wind, photovoltaics, and other DC power sources can also supply power directly to the data center without having to be converted to AC and then back to DC, the group says, making net-zero energy easier to achieve. Additional benefits, they claim, include greater resilience during and after outages, more efficient use of space, and lower maintenance costs. More information is available at www.emergealliance.org.

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December 31, 2012