The green potential of data centers

Many imagine data centers as the backbone or even the “brains” of the internet. Behind all the information services we use every day, data centers and super computers process, store, organize and communicate incredible amounts of data.

This enables applications such as video streaming, online collaboration, shopping, gaming, augmented reality and scientific computing. The ever-growing demand for data-based services leads to increased energy consumption in data centers themselves. Some of the world’s largest data centers can each contain many tens of thousands of IT devices and currently require 500 MW of power capacity. Technological solutions based on semiconductors limit energy flow, provide higher density and reduce cooling requirements. Like this, a mid-sized data center is able to save up to 115 GWh annually. This enables not only remarkable cost savings but also a reduction of around 4,700 tons of CO2 emissions.

Exponential growth of data requires energy efficiency

Within the past decade, the data traversing the internet increased by more than ten-fold, while global data center storage capacity increased by a factor of 25. At the same time, the number of computer instances running on the world’s servers – an indicator for the total applications hosted – increased by more than six-fold. These strong growth figures are expected to continue as the world consumes more and more data.

Trends like working from home, remote education, healthcare, emergency services and cloud business continue to fuel digitalization and increase electricity needs. New forms of information application such as artificial intelligence (AI) need enormous amounts of computing power and are expected to even accelerate demand. Therefore, the ability to quantify and project data center energy use is and will remain a key climate policy priority.

Improved system architecture is key

Data centers are made of several key building blocks: Servers provide computations and logic for information requests. Storage drives keep the data needed to meet those requests, and network devices connect the data center to the internet, enabling incoming and outgoing data flows.

Infineon solutions address all of these key building blocks and tasks of a data center. They improve system architecture, make the power supply more efficient, and lower cooling requirements. This directly leads to energy savings of up to 6.5 percent per year and realizes an annual savings potential for a mid-sized data center (250 MW) of as much as 115 GWh while cutting around 4,700 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Application page: Data processing

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Cool down and save energy with modern semiconductors

Above all, data centers produce enormous amounts of heat. Servers and cooling systems account for the greatest share of direct electricity use in data centers today. Typically, almost 50 percent of the electricity consumption related to data centers is due to cooling and uninterruptable power supply (UPS) demands.

The heat is removed by cooling equipment that also runs on electricity. To make cooling processes more efficient, Infineon offers all semiconductor technologies: Silicon (CoolMOSTM) and wide-bandgap semiconductors such as silicon carbide (CoolSIC™) and gallium nitride (CoolGaN™). These wide-bandgap technologies in particular have become a key lever to achieve more with less energy. They allow for greater power efficiency, smaller size, lighter weight and lower cost.

An example to illustrate these advantages: If every U.S. data center used the respective Infineon solution CoolGaN™, 4 billion kWh per year could be saved, which amounts to 2 million tons CO2 emissions less per year. CoolGaN™ devices are already being used to build highly efficient power converters for servers in data centers

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