Alternating current (AC) power is ubiquitous in data centers, and it's hard to change the status quo. But a direct current (DC) power demonstration project conducted by the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory produced some interesting results: a 7% energy savings over top-notch AC technologies.
SearchDataCenter.com recently reported on an experiment in using DC power in a data center at Syracuse University, furthering the practical research into this data center power option. While total DC power infrastructure for data centers isn't quite ready, these investigations are putting the concept on the top of mind for data center professionals concerned about power consumption.
Will DC Take to the Data Center? DC Power could save a bundle, but tech managers are just exploring it.
More than a century after DC bowed to AC as the most efficient method of electrical distribution, DC is getting a second look. But this time around, the ambitions of DC supporters are more narrowly focused. They're touting DC over AC as a way to make the facilities that house massive and power-ravenous data computing, storage, and communications systems more energy efficient. In a replay of the original AC-DC fight, however, AC supporters counter that tried-and-true AC, especially if it's optimized for efficiency, still reigns superior.
The battle is taking place against a backdrop of the surging "green" movement and an increased awareness of how much energy data centers use (and waste) because of how they're configured. Electrical engineering conferences, white papers, and demonstration projects that assess the comparable benefits of AC and DC for data centers have been proliferating. They've accelerated since 2006, when Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to oversee efforts to mitigate spiraling data center power consumption.
Has AC met its match?
DC has emerged as one possible fix, primarily because it would eliminate one of the biggest sources of energy loss and waste with AC - the multiple back-and-forth transformations and conditioning needed to step voltage down for use by IT equipment. By converting high-voltage AC to DC earlier, keeping it in DC form, and delivering it directly to rack-based servers, energy loss from conversion and the resultant heat that must be removed with cooling that also requires energy could be reduced. In fact, some studies peg energy savings as high as 30%.
>>Tell us your thoughts - send in a comment.
>>Join DVL's Users' Group