Case Study: Data Center Power Distribution

Examining Power Distribution Configurations to Demonstrate That DC Power Can Be a Huge Electricity-Saver

In a typical data center, power is delivered using alternating current (AC) that goes through multiple conversions between AC and direct current (DC). Each conversion creates inefficiencies, which wastes energy and produces heat, increasing the load on the center’s cooling system. For every 1 watt of power used to process data, an average of nearly 1 watt is required to support power conversion, and another 0.6 to 1 watt is needed to cool the power-conversion equipment. Ecova worked with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on a demonstration project that showed that alternative, DC–based power distribution systems can reduce the total system energy use in a data center by 5 to 7 percent compared to the most efficient alternating current (AC) systems, and by up to 28 percent compared to typical AC distribution systems.

The project received an honorable mention for innovative products and services from flex your power.

For every 1 watt of power used to process data, an average of nearly 1 watt is required to support power conversion, and another 0.6 to 1 watt is needed to cool the powerconversion equipment.

Ecova worked with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on a demonstration project that showed that alternative, DC–based power distribution systems can reduce the total system energy use in a data center by 5 to 7 percent compared to the most efficient alternating current (AC) systems, and by up to 28 percent compared to typical AC distribution systems. DC distribution systems also reduce cooling loads and have the potential to improve reliability by reducing the number of possible failure points. They provide the same level of functionality and computing performance as similarly configured AC systems.

PROCESS

The project tested several methods of configuring power distribution. In a facility-level configuration, AC power was converted to 380 volts DC once at the entrance to a facility. This achieved the highest efficiency improvement, and would be most applicable to new facilities. In a “rack-level” configuration, AC power was distributed throughout a facility until the rack level, when it was converted to 380 volts DC and fed directly to servers. This achieved significant efficiency improvement, and could be used easily in existing facilities.

RESULTS

Even with only 10% adoption, if energy intensive data centers used the new distribution architecture that delivers DC power directly to servers, collectively they would:

  • Reduce data center energy use by 20 percent
  • Save 29.2 GWh annually
  • Reduce electricity used to cool buildings by 28 percent
  • Prevent the emissions of 23.5 million pounds of CO2

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