The global data center sector is booming. The digitization of industries, 5G, and the expansion of cloud-based services and businesses are factors to this growth. More data consumption means more power consumption, thus resulting in the construction of additional data centers and supporting infrastructure. These build-outs are happening everywhere. With the expansion of global data centers comes the requirement to manage data centers more responsibly and efficiently.
Presently, energy efficiency is a strategic initiative for data center operators like AWS, Google, and Facebook – driven by government regulations and increasing public demand to reduce carbon emissions. Governments (and industry) are taking additional steps to achieve greater energy efficiency. In the US, the recently enacted Energy Act of 2020 outlines several actions, including a collaboration between government agencies and industry stakeholders to evaluate and set measurements, benchmarks, and best practices to increase energy efficiency. The goal is two-fold: to reduce costs and increase energy efficiency at federal government data centers and spur a move to expand these initiatives and standards for the broader industry.
At the beginning of 2021, the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, an industry-driven, self-regulatory initiative, was signed by a group of Europe’s largest data center operators. The Pact outlines aggressive targets to become climate neutral by 2030 – preempting potential European Union (EU) green data center laws.
Data Center Power Supplies (Lot 9)
The EU ErP (Ecodesign in Europe) Regulations for data storage products (Lot 9) impacts all products sold in the EU, including power supply units (PSUs) used for servers and data storage products, which must meet minimum efficiency and power factor requirements. These requirements are aligned with the 80 PLUS certification, a rating system for power supply efficiency. Products meeting these 80 PLUS levels will be compliant with Lot 9.
On January 1, 2023, requirements will increase (and again on January 1, 2026):
|Requirement||Output/ Load||Efficiency||Power Factor1
|10%||20%||50%||100%||10%||20%||50%||100%||115V non-redundant||115V Industrial|
1 Power Factor not defined under same load as 80 PLUS
2 100% Load efficiency is 90%, not 91%
Data from www.unicomengineering.com
These initiatives are just the start, and the data center industry must be prepared to meet these new directives. One key solution helping to meet and beat these efficiency requirements are GaN power semiconductors.
The GaN Difference
GaN’s significant impact focuses on enabling new levels of power density in data centers, moving beyond incremental increases in energy efficiency. Smaller power supplies as a result of using GaN power transistors allow for more CPU and memory to be added into the same rack space allowing for data center capacity growth without building more data centers. Delivering more power efficiently in smaller footprints is vital as the industry is shifting from a “Dollar per Watt” cost to a “Dollar per Density” value.
GaN-based PSUs can reduce energy costs by more than $100 million annually and reduce CO2 emissions by nearly one million metric tons for a large data center operator.
Today, companies developing data center PSUs have an array of GaN solutions and reference designs from GaN Systems including its 3kW BTP_PFC reference design and the newly released 3kW LLC Resonant Converter, GS-EVB-LLC-3KW-GS. This reference design, integrating GaN Systems’ 650 V E-mode transistors, helps designers meet and exceed the 80 PLUS Titanium standard for power supply units, achieving high power density (PFC+DC/DC) above 100W/inch3 and high efficiency of more than 98 percent. The GaN Systems 3kW PFC and LLC reference designs combine to deliver the smallest and most cost-effective power solution for data center power supplies.
In addition to GaN meeting power and efficiency requirements, GaN is creating huge impact on the financial performance of data centers. We’ll explore this in our next data center post.