Presented by Schneider Electric

Comparing data centre power distribution architectures

Many existing data centres utilise the same power distribution architecture to get power to their IT equipment that was developed for data centres approximately 40 years ago.

There have been dramatic changes, however, in how power is utilized in data centres that have challenged this architecture, specifically driven by:

  • Increasing power density
  • The increasing number of separate IT devices within the data centre
  • The need to add and remove IT devices on a continuous basis

Improved systems allow IT racks to be installed or changed without any new wiring, distribute power overhead, support rack densities up to 30 kW with a single flexible power feed, improve electrical efficiency, are instrumented for power at the branch circuit, and have a standard capacity management system.

As a result, significant improvements in efficiency, power density, power monitoring, and reconfigurability have been achieved in data centre power distribution, increasing the options available for data centres.

Schneider Electric’s white paper compares five power distribution approaches, including their advantages and disadvantages, and provided guidelines for when each is optimal.

The five approaches include:

  • Panelboard distribution and Field-wired PDU distribution, which are shown to be the best approach when low first cost is the highest priority, when the IT space has unique room constraints, and when IT changes are not likely.
  • Factory-configured PDU distribution, which are shown to be the best approach when a data center requires portability of its equipment, when additional pods may be added in the future, and when low first cost is still a priority.
  • Floor-mount modular power distribution, which is optimal when the data center has an uncertain growth plan and locations are not precisely defined in advance, because it offers flexibility to place units in specific locations when the need arises. It’s also best for data centers that are being retrofit with additional capacity (i.e. addition of a high-density zone).
  • Modular busway, which is optimal when floor space is a constraint, when there is a large open floor plan with a well-defined IT equipment layout, and when there is a high confidence in the final capacity need or when there is a high frequency of IT equipment turn-over requiring new circuits.

Guidance is provided on selecting the best approach for specific applications and constraints.

To download the whitepaper, visit the Schneider Electric website.

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Comparing data centre power distribution architectures