Adapting Data Center Design for An AI Future

Artificial intelligence is heavily impacting data center design and operations, from power density and heat rejection requirements to spatial considerations.

Data Center 2023

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is making modern data centers exponentially more power hungry than ever before. And that has big implications for the design and operation of these mission-critical facilities, the pillars upholding our ever-evolving, global digital economy.

From power design and distribution to power quality and environmental monitoring, data center operators have much to think about when adapting existing facilities or designing those of tomorrow. As AI technologies advance, data center infrastructure must also keep up to accommodate increasing power densities, changing hardware configurations, and dynamic workloads. In this article, we'll explore the key considerations data center operators must address to effectively harness the potential of AI while maintaining operational efficiency, uptime, and scalability.

Rising to the Challenge of Power Demands

Remember the early 2010s when the average data center design request for proposal (RFP) required around 5kW per cabinet? Those days are now well behind us. Integrating AI into data centers has significantly shifted power requirements – projections show a 50% increase in the power footprint of a traditional data center by 2025.

Now, data center design RFPs are evolving rapidly to require power densities anywhere from 34kW to over 50kW per cabinet. AI servers demand power levels several times higher than traditional servers to fuel advanced algorithms and GPU-intensive workloads.

As overall power consumption increases and demands for higher power densities grow, maximizing the rack power capacity and prioritizing high-efficiency power systems have become paramount. Future-ready intelligent rack power distribution units (PDUs) like the Raritan intelligent PX4 PDU bring the innovation and performance necessary to enable increased power density demands.

The Raritan PX4 PDU’s High Density Outlet Technology (HDOT) maximizes the number of outlets available in the PDU to power-dense racks. When coupled with Cx® outlets, a hybrid of C13 and C19 outlets, HDOT builds additional flexibility into racks by accommodating the use of both C20 and C14 cables. Alternating branch outlet grouping along the length of the PDU also supports efficient use of space by simplifying load balancing and device installation, allowing the use of shorter patch cables, which keeps them out of the airflow path. It also lessens out-of-balance loads that can lead to increased heat in the neutral current line.


Image: The Raritan PX4 Intelligent Rack PDU

Advanced Power Quality Monitoring Reduces Operational Risk

There’s no question that downtime in a data center can have a significant impact on both revenue and reputation. In fact, power-related issues account for the majority of downtime in data centers. Common power issues that data centers face include power surges and harmonic distortion. Having insight into what is happening at the PDU’s infeed or down to the individual outlet level of a rack PDU can help data center operators detect power quality problems early and identify potential issues before they arise.

The optimal intelligent rack PDU (like the Raritan PX4) features real-time visibility, reporting and alerting of power quality metrics and events, including total harmonic distortion and circuit breaker trip forensics with waveform capture.  Such insight drives capacity and failover planning while helping data center facility managers improve power management and uptime initiatives.

Modern data center design must account for processing greater workloads in smaller footprints and making evermore dense racks run efficiently. Embracing innovative technologies that rise to the power consumption and operational challenges that AI poses will be key to success and scalability.

To start that journey, learn more about incorporating Raritan intelligent rack PDUs into your data center.

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