Validus Sees Gains for DC Hybrid Systems

Validus DC Systems says is starting to see traction for its DC power infrastructure products for data centers.

Rich Miller

March 6, 2008

2 Min Read
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Validus DC Systems says it is starting to see traction for its DC power infrastructure products for data centers, and counts a major bank and a private data center developer among its new clients. Rudy Kraus, the CEO and founder of Validus, says the trend towards high-density computing is convincing more data center operators to consider DC power distribution.

"We actually just sold a system to one of the major banks," Kraus said Tuesday at the DataCenterDynamics New York conference at the New York Hilton. Kraus said early customers are choosing hybrid approaches in which Validus systems operate with existing AC equipment, offering customers an "on ramp" to DC power distribution. Validus recently signed a reseller agreement with GE Digital Energy that Kraus said will accelerate adoption of his company's hybrid products.

Validus was founded in 2002 as a spinoff from equipment vendor DSA/Encore, and has developed an end-to-end DC system using a -575V DC power distribution system and patented power converter unit to provide -48V DC at the point of use. The company says its approach can improve energy efficiency by 40 percent compared to existing AC systems. In December the company raised $10 million in a first round of venture funding led by Oak Hill Venture Partners.

The benefits of DC have been advocated in a study from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. 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.

Kraus said Validus' hybrid approach offers an accessible way to get past the AC vs. DC debate. "AC and DC can coexist side by side," he said. "The biggest part of what we do is tell people that the products exist today. Forty-eight volt power supplies have been around as long as telcos. So why is it that we can't use it in data centers? All data centers have energy storage. That is DC, and will be DC forever."

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.

Kraus noted that The Green Grid has evaluated multiple power distribution configurations using AC and DC power at different voltages, all in pursuit of the most energy efficient approach. "We truly believe that being voltage agnostic is really important," he said. "We'll have a lot of different voltages to pick from."

Kraus said Validus' clients are not presently interested in publicizing their use of DC distribution, but he expects to have case studies later this year. "The more you drill into this, the more you find that you can be simpler and more reliable," he said. "I think the world is coming around to this."

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