Validus Equips IBM/Syracuse With DC Power

Validus DC Systems has been selected by Syracuse University to deliver the direct current (DC) power infrastructure in a new data center designed to be among the world’s most energy-efficient facilities. The new data center will serve as a testbed for energy efficient data center design, backed by technology from IBM and financial support from the state of New York,  and is expected to use 50 percent less energy than a typical data center.

The Validus DC System will provide the core power infrastructure equipment to create and deliver DC power to IBM z10 systems. 

“By eliminating unnecessary power losses of a traditional alternating current data center, Syracuse University will be positioned to run IBM’s systems for significantly less cost and with a considerably smaller carbon footprint,” says Rudy Kraus, Chief Executive Officer, Validus DC Systems. “The improved efficiency and reliability of a higher voltage direct current system will allow Syracuse to experience a reduction in energy costs while delivering overall system modularity and ease of integration of current and future renewable energy sources.”

High-quality power distribution technology is important to the project because Syracuse will be the home to the first university data center powered by onsite generation in New York State. The new facility, which is scheduled to be completed late this year, will be powered by a microturbine engine fueled by natural gas, which will generate all electricity for the center and provide cooling for the computer servers. The data center will be able to operate completely off-grid.

Most data centers use power distribution systems in which AC power from the grid is converted into DC power to charge the batteries, and then converted back to AC for the equipment. The loss of power through multiple AC/DC conversions has been cited as an argument for using DC power distribution. But many data center professionals remain leery of DC power, and some vendors argue that high-voltage AC configurations would be a better approach than DC power distribution. 

Validus was founded in 2002 as a spinoff from equipment vendor DSA/Encore, and has been developing a line of DC power products. In 2007 the company received $10 million in a first round of venture funding led by Oak Hill Venture Partner

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Very interesting, and it's good to see this common discussion come to fruitition. What was the cost difference to use DC power versus a typical AC system? Is there a payback period that was used for analysis?

  2. Hi, John: Although the financial details of this analysis would need to come directly from the University I can share that most -575VDC or -400VDC systems we have analyzed are either less expensive day one or the incremental cost payback is within months. The overall system payback is substantial. The other two factors worth considering is the ease of renewable energy integration and improved reliability of the system. Ron