By Paul Wiener, Vice President of Strategic Marketing

This article was originally published at VMBlog.com here.

We are witnessing a time period where “exponential growth” and “going viral” is a routine part of many discussions. Today, those terms are unfortunately connected with conversations around COVID-19. However, “exponential growth” is also very relevant in the data center market, attached to topics like data usage and video content. But with that growth comes real concerns around resource usage like electricity and water, especially given rising compliance requirements around energy efficiency. While ongoing corporate sustainability efforts have focused on renewable energy and water recycling, why not focus on the root cause, a producer of heat that requires the water cooling and need for more electricity usage?

The winds of change will be sweeping across data centers in 2021.

Read the GaN Systems 2021 Technology Predictions in Power Electronics. Click here for the free ebook.

The perfect storm of increased infrastructure spending, new regulatory policies requiring higher efficiency, and demands for increased power density inside the data center, has brought the industry to an inflection point at a time when data centers account for nearly 2% of the world’s energy use and forecasted to increase.

With 44 zettabytes of data residing in our data centers coming from 8 to 30 billion connected devices all over the world and about a 10% increase in data center growth expected in the next year, the need to change data center economics through power supply design has never been more apparent.

Based on these internal and external forces, GaN Systems foresees the following predictions and trends taking shape in 2021:

  • According to Gartner, one of the leading analyst research firms, end user data center infrastructure spending worldwide will increase 6% to $200 billion in 2021, after a pandemic-driven decline in 2020. COVID-19 was responsible for putting a hold on 60% of planned construction projects in 2020, which was directly tied to a 10.3% dip in data center spending. Likewise, due to the pandemic, the global economy remains on its way to its “digital destiny” as most products and services are now based on a digital delivery model or require digital augmentation to remain competitive.
  • The European Union’s “Lot 9” 2023 regulatory policies focusing on data center infrastructure as related to power supply and energy efficiency requirements will have a significant impact on the future of data center power supply design. Over the next year, GaN‘s major impact will be centered on enabling new levels of combined efficiency and power density. A key power supply cost metric in the industry will shift from “$ per Watt” to “$ per Density” where density is a measure of size and power of the power supply. The “$ per Density” metric will ultimately influence strategic data center decisions and become a dominate figure-of-merit.
  • The data center ecosystem will continue to evolve and become even more critical for organizations. Infrastructure efficiency has been a huge concern for many organizations. While 2020 was the year of substantial increase in GaN power supply design efforts, we predict that 2021 will see significant deployment of GaN in data centers.
  • In 2021, data center operators will need increased power density inside their physical data center infrastructure. Smaller power supplies using GaN technology allow for more storage and memory to be added into the same rack space allowing for data center capacity growth without actually having to build more data centers.