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Can Solar Power Solve Data Center Power Problems?
It’s a problem currently plaguing the industry and it is showing no sign of slowing down – data center power consumption costs are increasing exponentially.
So is solar power the key to solving data center power consumption problems?
According to some companies, it just might be. A recent article posits that data centers – or the “power-sucking appendages of the Digital Age,” as the author calls it – have come a long way in terms of becoming more efficient and reducing environmental impact, however, there is still a long way to go.
In an effort to figure out how to address rising data center power costs, IBM (News - Alert) has introduced a solution – a solar power array created to specifically run in high-voltage data centers. The key is to integrate AC- and DC-based servers, water-cooled computing systems and other electronics, according to IBM officials.
“By employing unique high-voltage DC power conditioning methods – and reducing AC-DC conversion losses – the new IBM solution can cut energy consumption of data centers by about 10 percent and tailors solar technology for wider use in industrial IT and electronics installations,” IBM said in the article.
Recently, TMCnet reported that ABB and IBM have teamed to develop a solution to address rising data center power consumption. Supercomputers are being used by scientists at IBM’s Zurich lab and the Swiss power firm ABB to study and, hopefully, develop a new high-voltage insulator to improve the efficiency of electricity transmissions. If successful, this improved insulator could help transform the power grid by reducing the energy lost and associated outages caused by material deterioration when the grid is exposed to weather.
IBM is also setting up a system – powered by a 6,000-square-foot rooftop solar array capable of providing a 50-kilowatt supply of electricity for up to 330 days a year, for an average of five hours a day – at its India Software Lab in Bangalore. This project marks IBM’s first attempt to tie together solar power, water cooling and power conditioning into a “snap-together” package that can run massive configurations of electronic equipment, according to company officials.
“The technology behind solar power has been around for many years, but until now, no one has engineered it for efficient use in IT,” Rod Adkins, senior vice president, IBM Systems & Technology Group, said in a statement. “We’ve designed a solar solution to bring a new source of clean, reliable and efficient power to energy-intensive, industrial-scale electronics.”
One company leading the charge of trying to figure out how to best monitor data center power consumption is Server Technology (News - Alert), a provider of power management solutions. For example, its flagship product Sentry Power Manager 5.0 is touted as an “unbelievable solution for rack-level data center power management.”
SPM 5.0 offers a single pane of glass view that has the ability to manage an entire CDU network while providing measurement, monitoring and trending data at the rack level or device level, according to company officials. SPM 5.0, which took about nine months to develop, offers an affordable solution that provides the critical power information from IT equipment that data center management needs to make informed decisions about power and energy use. The new SPM Version 5.0 is enhanced with an intuitive interface, world-class design and functionality, and improved CDU monitoring and management capabilities.
To learn more about what Server Technology is doing in the market, click here.
Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves
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