GaN solutions alter the data centre power equation

25th April 2017
Lanna Cooper


The age of the hyper-scale data centre is upon us, evidenced by massive data storage farms and the tens of thousands of cloud servers housed in hangar-sized buildings operated by companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon.

According to a report published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, data centres across the United States consumed a whopping 70 billion kWh of energy in 2014. Going forward, this installed base of servers is projected to increase by 40% from 2010 to 2020.

Techniques like data storage consolidation, improved cooling, the uses of power management software, and advanced hardware design, have allowed data centre managers to achieve a high degree of energy efficiency, even as demand rises.

Semiconductor makers are continuously looking for new ways to increase energy efficiency and density, not just through cooling and power management techniques, but through materials and new devices that offer even further efficiencies - like increased rack density and added storage space, all without sacrificing efficiency.

Engineers are using new wide-bandgap devices and advanced gallium nitride (GaN) solutions to create power-conversion designs not previously possible with silicon Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistors (MOSFETs).

GaN-based solutions fundamentally change both the architecture and density of the data centre power system, from the AC to the processors. Higher switching frequencies, operating temperatures, and voltage handling capabilities of Wide Bandgap (WBG) Gallium Nitride (GaN) devices make them fundamental to any effort to reduce energy consumption. Smaller form factors further enable the emerging high voltage distribution systems in data centres for 380-48V converters.

Click here to learn more about the future of GaN power supply design and how this technology empowers engineers to do what was once unreachable: design new energy systems that are substantially smaller, switch faster, and run cooler than ever before.

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