IBM launches first solar array designed for high-voltage data centres

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Spread over more than 6,000 square feet of rooftop in Bangalore, India, is the first solar power array designed specifically to run high-voltage data centres, integrating AC- and DC-based servers, water-cooled computing systems and related electronics.

IBM has launched a solar array capable of providing a 50kW supply of electricity for up to 330 days a year for an average of five hours a day.

The days of relying on expensive diesel generators could soon be over. IBM claims high-voltage DC power conditioning methods and reducing AC-DC conversion losses can cut energy consumption of data centres by about 10% and tailors solar technology for wider use in industrial IT and electronics installations. In effect, any company or government agency could set up a data centre with its own DC mini-grid inside.

IBM's Bangalore array is the first move to blend solar power, water-cooling and power-conditioning into a “snap-together” package suitable to run massive configurations of electronic equipment.

“The technology behind solar power has been around for many years, but until now, no one has engineered it for efficient use in IT,” said Rod Adkins, senior vice president for IBM Systems & Technology Group. “We've designed a solar solution to bring a new source of clean, reliable and efficient power to energy-intensive, industrial-scale electronics.”

IBM plans for the Bangalore solar power system to connect directly into the data centre’s water-cooling and high-voltage DC systems. The integrated solution can provide a compute power of 25 to 30 teraflops using an IBM Power Systems server on a 50kW solar power supply.

“This solar deployment, currently powering almost 20% of our own data centre energy requirements, is the latest in the investments made at the India lab to design an efficient and smarter data centre,” said Dr. Ponani Gopalakrishnan, VP for IBM India Software Lab. “Ready access to renewable energy in emerging markets presents significant opportunities for IBM to increase efficiencies, improve productivity and drive innovation for businesses around the world.”

IBM plans to make the new solar-power technology available to clients.

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