How will data centres cope with the raft of power and cooling challenges presented by AI?

A recent panel debate hosted by Critical Insight discussed the power and scalability challenges face by hyperscale data centre operators who are committing billions of dollars to create new AI and HPC (high performance computing) capacity.

Keith Maclean-Martin, Technical Director, Piller Power Systems UK said: “It is an interesting challenge, we are looking a potential 10-fold increase power demand that these facilities have compared to the conventional data centres and hyperscale that have large scale power footprints. We have a creaking grid to support this. It will drive us to look at how we design data centres and reinvent the infrastructure.”

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“The challenge is to provide power across different variances of power draw. Where one data hall may be pulling 20kW per rack, another may pull 100kW. That would normally mean deploying different infrastructure. But managing variable density power from the same architecture would simplify coping with variances in demand. We see isolated parallel rings being a key infrastructure support to accommodate different density variances without having to differentiate your power infrastructure. This uses a standard power infrastructure chain, and at the deployment end provides the necessary flexibility.”

Current power grids were not originally designed to support additional demand for power capacity forecast to reach 38GWs. This is accelerating evaluation of data centres feeding power back to the grid through flexible power infrastructure and microgrid development.

Piller’s goal is to address and eradicate inefficiencies in design and operation in order to provide long term sustainable data centre operation at scale.

Beyond the data centre building this means accessing new power generation options for the of capacities required in the form of clean, low and no carbon power provided by hydrogen ready engines combined with microgrid power conditioning and stabilisation technologies. The Power of 10 solution, comprising multiples of modular generating units offer a highly flexible power solution up to 1000MW that can effortlessly handle the demand profile of AI and built in phases by adding extra modules as demand increases.

Within the data centre a key performance element for high density environments are Piller’s high-performance critical power conditioning, stabilisation and backup systems, which are designed to meet the conditioned power protection needs of cloud hyperscale, wholesale colocation, and large enterprise data centres.

About Power Solutions

The Langley Holdings Power Solutions Division comprises Bergen Engines, the Norwegian medium-speed engine builder acquired from Rolls-Royce in December 2021; Marelli Motori, the Italian producer of electric motors and generators, part of the Group since May 2019; and Piller Group, Europe’s leading producer of critical power conditioning, stabilisation and backup systems, based in Germany and celebrating 20 years of Langley stewardship this year.  In 2024, the Division will account for approximately half of the Group’s $1.5bn revenues and 5000+ employees.

About Piller

Piller power conditioning and backup technology  can be found in major mission-critical power applications globally. For many of the world’s banks and financial institutions, governmental agencies, data centre operators, telecoms networks and airports, as well as hospitals, semiconductor and pharmaceutical manufacturers, Piller equipment is the go-to technology, earning the mantra Nothing protects quite like Piller.

Piller was founded by Anton Piller in Hamburg in 1909. Today the company is headquartered in Osterode, near Hanover in Germany, with subsidiaries across Europe, in the USA, India, Singapore and Australia. The company employs around 1,000 people worldwide, the majority in Germany.

In 2016 Piller acquired the Austin TX kinetic energy storage producer, Active Power Inc.

Piller Group GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary of the UK engineering and industrial group, Langley Holdings plc and is part of the Power Solutions Division.

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