Energy IQ: Three energy and power system considerations for edge data centers
Technologies that require fast computing and low latency are the key drivers of edge computing, and this need for low latency necessitates edge data centers to be near the users they support. Edge data centers are the physical structures where edge computing takes place and are usually located within a few miles from where the data is generated.
Edge data centers, whether located at the base of a cell tower or on-premise at a hospital or factory, will have distinctive energy and power system considerations compared to traditional data centers. This article outlines three of the key energy and power system considerations for edge data centers.
No. 1: Continuity of computing service will be ensured through redundancy within edge ecosystem and reliability of power systems
One of the advantages of a distributed edge data center ecosystem is that computing workloads can efficiently be moved across a network of nearby edge data centers. Consequently, users can enjoy the continuity of service even when their nearby edge data center suffers an unexpected service downtime. Therefore, edge data centers part of a robust network and able to seamlessly move computing to nearby data centers may require less redundancy in their power systems.
However, power systems’ reliability will be paramount for edge data centers that are not able to seamlessly move computing to nearby facilities without compromising latency requirements. Power systems in these applications will often feature redundant starters and batteries for increased reliability, in addition to state-of-the-art digital monitoring systems to be covered next.
No. 2: Unmanned edge data centers will require state-of-the-art monitoring systems
Many edge data centers will be unmanned, without on-premise facility technicians. Moreover, these data centers will be scattered around cities and towns, making it even more challenging to build a responsive service strategy. This is where state-of-the-art digital monitoring systems come into play.
Power systems in these edge data centers will feature digital monitoring systems that go beyond the traditional remote monitoring and diagnostics. Often, they will include monitoring systems that provide predictive diagnostics and prognostics with a robust communication and response protocol. These state-of-the-art digital power system monitoring solutions will help operators build a more pro-active service capability.
No. 3: Power systems may be subject to stringent emission and noise requirements
As many edge data centers will be in highly populated urban and suburban areas, they will likely face stringent emission and noise requirements.
Power systems in these edge data centers could deviate from traditional systems depending upon user location. In fact, edge may be the proving ground for power system technologies beyond the historically common approach of supplementing the grid connection with back-up diesel power generators. For instance, natural gas generators with lower emission levels could be preferable in areas with robust pipelines. Solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage systems deliver further reduction in emissions and noise levels in areas where there is land availability and solar exposure. Finally, fuel cells could be an option for selected edge data centers. Edge data centers will likely adopt a variety of energy strategies driven by diverse deployment locations and user preferences.
As the industry’s power system needs evolve, Cummins Inc. continues to innovate. These innovations range from continuous enhancements within its diesel and gas power generator portfolio, to innovations in complementary technologies. Cummins’ recent investments in energy storage, fuel cells and advanced microgrid control technologies has boosted its capability to offer comprehensive energy solutions tailored for the data center industry’s emerging needs.
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