Power Electronics

Technologies Under Development to Reduce Datacenters' Energy Consumption

Optimizing modern data centers' energy consumption is a key challenge, according to Yole Développement in its new report entitled "New Technologies and Architectures for Efficient Data Center." And the "More than Moore" market research and strategy consulting company adds: "Technical solutions are required to store the increasing amount of internet data safely and with minimum power consumption".

Data centers are huge electricity users, representing around 1.62% of the world's consumed energy in 2014. Under this new report, Yole's team analyses several possible scenarios for the evolution of data centers' energy consumption. "In the actual scenario, with an average Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) of 1.8, worldwide data center energy consumption will reach 507.9 TWh by 2020", explains Mattin Grao Txapartegy, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. And he adds: "In our hypothetical scenarios, there's a possibility for achieving a 12.4% decrease of this number by implementing some new technologies."

Examples from Google, Microsoft, and Facebook show that it is possible to build highly-efficient data centers, with PUEs close to 1.1. In order to address the urgency for reduced energy consumption, manufacturers are emphasizing improved efficiency of the architectural design, the equipment, the cooling system, and more.

Datacenter analysis from Yole, describes some of the more efficient modern data center architectures (modular Alternative Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) grid), as well as some upcoming technologies, such as silicon photonics and Wide Band Gap (WBG) materials that could reduce energy consumption. These new technologies are clearly emerging to relieve traffic congestion on data transmission lines and significantly improve the energy efficiency of the power distribution network.

"In future data centers, silicon photonics is generally perceived as a technical solution that will handle the increasing bandwidth up to 100Gb/s and beyond" asserts Dr Eric Mounier, Senior Analyst at Yole. But one of photonics' intrinsic advantages is power-saving, which is a huge plus for interconnects that account for a significant part of power consumption. For example, with a 10Gb/s link, a copper interconnect will consume 10W, while silicon photonics or VCsELs solutions will consume 0.2W. This equates to a cost reduction from US$3500/year for copper to US$70/ year for photonics.

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