Why CIOs Should Now Be Interested In Direct Current

Andreas Kreiger
Andreas Keiger, Executive Vice President Global Business Unit IT

Author: Andreas Keiger, Executive Vice President Global Business Unit IT, Rittal

Direct current (DC) components in data centers are creating opportunities for cost savings. In particular, technologies employed by the open-source OCP (Open Compute Project) initiative are opening up new potential. These solutions deploy direct current within IT racks, enabling highly homogeneous, scalable data centers. Further advantages include streamlined power supply – just one or two central power shelves with (n+1) adapters per rack provide electricity to all IT components. Since fewer adapters are needed, cooling is more efficient. Moreover, greater standardization translates into easier maintenance and simpler spare parts management.

Cutting electricity costs in data centers is an ongoing task for CIOs. In this context, the OCP initiative is providing fresh impetus. The questions remains under which conditions does it make economic sense to use direct current? There is no single, always-applicable way of calculating financial advantages of DC installations. Instead, each unique scenario needs to be analyzed individually. A variety of parameters must be taken into account, including usage type, location and energy costs. When DC is adopted, fewer voltage converters are required; based on experience, this saves approximately 5 percent of total electricity consumption. On its own, this is far too little to justify a new infrastructure project. But there are additional aspects to be considered – for example, improvements to cooling systems. This makes it essential to consider the specifics of each scenario. In particular, an investment can be financially attractive if the entire architecture, including cooling systems, is converted to direct current.

What would an efficient OCP solution look like? It would feature hot aisle containment, with separate zones for cold and warm air – a standard approach in many data centers. Furthermore, vendors, including Rittal, have improved thermodynamics in their OCP IT racks, enabling even distribution of cold intake air and therefore greater cooling system efficiency. OCP hardware specifications also allow a higher intake air temperature of up to 30 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the 21″ interior of the 600 mm-wide OCP racks means more IT components fit into the same space. In all, the combination of thermal, electrical and rack design improvements means greater energy efficiency.

OCP Is Ready For Data Centers

Cutting electricity costs: Rittal offers OCP racks that leverage 12V DC and 48V DC. Direct current enhances energy efficiency, standardisation shortens time-to-market, and scalability provides greater agility.

DC racks are typically used in highly homogeneous, large-scale installations, such as those found at hyperscale cloud providers. In these cases, economy of scale has a positive impact on operations and on electricity costs. This architecture is also attractive for telecommunications companies, since both DC and many telco systems use 48 volts.

OCP components are already at an advanced stage, and can be used in production environments. For example Rittal continues to collaborate with customers to further evolve and enhance their solutions for OCP IT racks. CIOs are therefore well advised to keep a close eye on the market and stay up-to-date with the latest developments. Rittal, for instance, has played an active role in both projects.


Find below a short video clip that gives a technical overview.

OCP Regional Summit

For more information please visit Rittal on the OCP Regional Summit in Amsterdam, Netherlands, October 1-2, 2018, where Rittal is taking part as a bronze sponsor.

For more information visit: www.rittal.com/it-solutions/en/solutions/detail/show/Loesungen/ocp-open-compute-project.

Inxy Hosting CDN Marketplace