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400 VDC for Data Centers

Converting, transforming, converting, transforming – vast amounts of unused electricity simply disappear in data centers. The idea of switching the power supply to direct current and bypassing a large proportion of these losses results in a paradigm shift.

According to an independent British report from 2016, data centers consume approximately 3 % of the world's electricity and account for 2 % of total greenhouse gas emissions. This ecological footprint corresponds to that generated by the often quoted and vilified airline industry. Losses occur all over the place: For example in processors, in cooling, in airconditioning, but also in the distribution of power.

The approach of providing a data center with DC voltage is obvious. If the server is already working off DC power, it makes sense to continue using it as consistently as possible throughout the chain.

Advantages

The DC power architecture contains significantly fewer components. By eliminating various transformations and conversions there is already an increase in efficiency of 10 % from the supply to the server. Fewer components are installed quicker, are serviced faster, and cause fewer errors. According to a study conducted by NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone), the reliability is expected to increase tenfold due to the system being less complex!

Further advantage: It is so much easier to integrate renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics, fuel cells or wind energy as these sources of energy can already provide the electricity as a direct current.

Standards

To date, there have been no binding standards to adhere to. The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has set out to create the missing link with standardized plug and socket devices according to TS 62735. The standard IEC TS 62735-1 has been adopted since August 2015 for systems up to 2.6 kW relating to the distribution of power. The standard IEC TS 62735-2 was approved in December 2016 for higher outputs of up to 5.2 kW - which can no longer be separated when under load.

IThe device-side equivalent should also be approved in a next step. Efforts are currently being made to create solutions for DC plug connections on the previous AC standard IEC 60320.

Outlook

The supply of a data center using direct current has enormous potential. Not only does it offer the potential for saving energy. The quality of the DC-level power is better. This will result in the use of fewer components and, ultimately, greater reliability. Availability is the keyword in the digital age.

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