Like most niches within the tech industry, the data center ecosystem is awash with acronyms. If you want to show your understanding of how data centers work or prove your data center industry insider status, you need to know the acronyms that frequently feature in conversations about data centers.
Most such acronyms – which you can find summarized in our handy data center acronym cheat sheet – have long been part of industry lingo. But as we head into a new year, certain acronyms are likely to prove especially important to know. Some are new, while others have been around for a while but have only recently become popular.
This article discusses both types of acronyms, highlighting some of the key terms and concepts that will shape conversations in the data center industry in 2024.
Data center sustainability remains a key focus of the industry, and so do acronyms related to sustainability trends – including PUE, which stands for ‘Power Usage Effectiveness’. PUE measures the overall energy efficiency of a data center, which is one way to gauge how sustainable a facility is.
Along similar lines, WUE, short for ‘Water Usage Effectiveness’, is another trending sustainability-focused data center acronym. There's good reason to believe as we head into 2024 that WUE will draw even more attention, given growing efforts by data center operators to show that they are using water efficiently, in addition to energy.
GTE, which stands for ‘geothermal energy’, is another acronym that is likely to crop up more often in relation to data centers in 2024. More data center operators are exploring GTE as a means of sourcing clean and renewable energy for their facilities.
Rounding out the list of data center sustainability acronyms that you're likely to encounter in 2024 is ISO-14000. ISO-14000 refers to a standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization for minimizing the adverse environmental impact of organizations. It's not designed for data centers exclusively, but it's a key set of guidelines that data center operators can use in pursuit of better sustainability outcomes.
You've probably heard of ESG, an acronym that stands for ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’. But as of early 2024, it's beginning to look like ESG is old news – or at least an outdated acronym – due to concerns that the term has become too politicized.
Its likely replacement is CSR, short for ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’. You could argue that CSR means the same thing as ESG, so the change in terminology doesn't actually impact how data centers operate with regard to social and environmental impact. Still, if you want to sound like you're up to date, you'll be using this new acronym in 2024.
GPU, which stands for ‘Graphical Processing Unit’, is a well-known acronym in the data center space and beyond. In 2024, however, it's poised to be an especially hot topic due to the ongoing surge of interest in artificial intelligence (AI).
GPUs are important in the context of AI because in many cases, AI models rely on servers equipped with GPUs to perform training. GPUs enable faster crunching of numbers than conventional CPUs.
So, although you're probably already familiar with GPUs, expect to hear even more about them in 2024 as part of conversations surrounding AI and data centers.
If you're talking about GPUs in a data center in 2024, you're likely to focus especially on the H100, a particular type of GPU from Nvidia. (Technically, H100 is not actually an acronym, as far as we can tell; it's just the name Nvidia gave to one of its chips.) H100 GPUs have become especially popular as solutions for AI training because they can deliver performance up to nine times faster than other types of GPUs.
ASIC falls into a similar category as GPUs. ASIC refers to ‘Application Specific Integrated Chip’, another type of special-purpose device that can be used to accelerate AI training (among other purposes) – although unlike GPUs, ASICs are chips that are designed for one specific purpose, such as AI training. In contrast, a GPU is a device that can serve multiple purposes – such as processing video (which is the primary use case for most GPUs) or supporting AI training.
Speaking of hardware optimized for specific tasks, another acronym (or partial acronym) to watch on this front in 2024 is SmartNIC. A SmartNIC, or a ‘Smart Network Controller Interface’, is a network card that can process network traffic directly, rather than relying on a server's CPU for network processing.
In a world where the volume of network traffic and the complexity of network architectures are continuously increasing, SmartNICs are growing ever-more important to data center operations.
A late entry to our list of top data center acronyms for 2024, the Asia-Pacific Data Centre Association (APDCA) was unveiled on January 8. This new industry association has been formed to represent the collective interests of the data center industry in the Asia-Pacific region. The founding members of the APDCA represent leading global data center operators, including Digital Realty, Equinix, Global witch, NTT Global Data Centers, and Vantage Data Centers.
There are plenty of other data acronyms – such as UPS, PDU, BC/DR and WAN, to name just a few – that will remain important in 2024. But the ones we've described above are likely to prove to be the trendiest in this new year, given their association with special areas of interest – like sustainability and AI – that are poised to dominate the data center industry in 2024.
Check out our data center acronym cheat sheet for more must-know industry terms and concepts.