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Swiss firms launch world’s most powerful DC data centre

ABB and Green’s “global showcase” DC technology centre will reduce energy by 20%

ABB is applying DC to medium and low-voltage applications in power distribution
ABB is applying DC to medium and low-voltage applications in power distribution systems

The world's most powerful direct current (DC) centre has been launched in Switzerland. Power and automation technology group ABB, and Green, an information and communications technology (ITC) service providers in Switzerland, has announced the official opening of Green’s new Zurich-West data centre expansion based on DC technology.

Green’s facility, which employs HVDC-capable HP servers, is the most powerful application of DC in a data centre to date. Performance tests showed that Green’s new power distribution system is 10 per cent more efficient than for comparable alternating current (AC) technology. In addition, investment costs for the system were 15 per cent lower than for an AC system.

Franz Grueter, CEO of Green, said: “The implementation of 380 volt DC technology in our data centre is part of our long-term energy optimisation strategy, a big step that has set a new standard in the industry

“When fully loaded, the system will result in energy savings of up to 20 per cent in power consumption from grid to chip and in cooling,” he said.

With the addition of almost six million new servers every year, data centre energy demand is increasing at a rate of more than 10 per cent annually, requiring more efficient and reliable solutions. DC systems are less complex than AC systems, making fewer power conversions. This requires as much as 25 per cent less space, and reduces equipment, installation, and real estate and maintenance costs.
“Across all our business areas, customers are asking for improved reliability and energy efficiency, and DC power is an effective solution," said Tarak Mehta, head of ABB’s low voltage products division. "Zurich West will serve as a global showcase to demonstrate that DC is a complementary technology in data centers as it enhances reliability while minimising footprint, installation and maintenance costs.”

ABB installed the one MW DC power distribution solution for the 1,100 m2 expansion of the 3,300 m2 Zurich-West data centre. It was engineered to Green’s strict ecological standards by ABB with support from Validus DC Systems, an ABB company.

The project underlines ABB’s goal to create new power options through expanded DC applications. The company pioneered technologies that made conversion between AC and DC systems possible and was the first to commercialise long distance high-voltage DC power transmission. ABB is now applying DC to medium- and low-voltage applications in electric vehicle charging, power distribution systems on ships, in building and in data centres.

HP provided the HVDC-enabled IT for this technology showcase, including servers and storage, such as the HP X1800 G2 Network Storage System, HP DL385 servers, and the HP BladeSystem c3000. These systems represent the beginning of HP’s strategy to enable the enterprise IT portfolio with support for high-voltage DC.

"Green was looking for an IT partner that could provide HVDC-enabled IT solutions to meet its specific data-centre needs," said Ron Noblett, vice president, infrastructure and storage, HP. "At the heart of HP's Converged Infrastructure strategy is our commitment to develop new energy-saving technologies that can lower data-centre capital costs, as well as ongoing operations costs and complexity."