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Ten predicted trends shaping data centre facilities
The 2025 Huawei trend forecast gives you the lowdown on data centre facilities five years from now.
From 2010 to 2019, the data centre industry experienced exponential growth. The move towards hybrid IT continues as the balance between on-premise facilities, colocation and cloud services becomes more pronounced. The rapid development of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data, and 5G brings further growth and drives ever-increasing market demand.
To meet this demand, data centres must solve construction challenges to build at speed, scale, and manage energy usage and costs in a sustainable way. Besides, data centres also face many challenges in terms of architecture, flexibility and operations and management.
The following trends look at how we meet this challenge as an industry and drive towards this future.
1) High density
CPU performance and server capacity keep increasing with the evolution of IT computing capacity. As the demand for AI applications also increases, the importance of AI computing power grows in parallel. Data centres development targets high density to balance efficiency and costs. Currently, the average power capacity in a data centre is 6 to 8kW/rack. The power density of 15 to 20kW/rack is going to be predominant in data centres by 2025.
Power density of 15 to 20 kW/rack is predominant in data centres by 2025.
2) Scalable architecture
Generally, the lifecycle of IT devices is 3 to 5 years, and the power density doubles every 5 years. The lifecycle of data centre infrastructure, however, is 10 to 15 years. The data centre facility undergoes IT evolution for the next 2-3 generations. Scalable expansion and phased investment for optimal CAPEX for the lifecycle of the data centre is required. Also, the data centre must support the hybrid deployment of IT devices with different power densities because of the execution of diversified IT services.
Currently, the power consumption of data centres accounts for three per cent of the world’s total power consumption. The total power consumption of the data centre reaches more than 1,000TWh by 2025. Energy-saving, emission reduction and operating expense (OPEX) reduction are significant challenges. Increasing power usage effectiveness (PUE) of data centres and building sustainably is imperative and inevitable. It is an irresistible trend to use clean energy and waste heat to save resources (such as energy, land, water, and materials) throughout the lifecycle of the data centre. The average PUE of a new data centre in China is dropping to 1.1 in the next five years.
4) Quick deployment
Internet services usually spike in a short period; data and traffic demands on the service side increase sharply. Therefore, data centres must deploy quickly. On the other hand, the data centre is changing from a support system to a production system. A faster rollout, therefore, means faster benefits. The typical trailing twelvemonth (TTM) of a data centre is 9 to 12 months, which decreases to less than 6 months in the future.
The average PUE of a new data centre in China drops to 1.1 in the next five years.
5) Full digitisation and AI-enablement
The software-defined, intelligent data centre is upon us. With the continuous improvement of IoT and AI technologies, data centres are gradually evolving from single-domain digitisation in terms of operation and management, energy-saving and operation, to full-lifecycle digitisation and automatic driving in terms of planning, construction, optimisation operation and management. AI is going to be widely adopted and applied.
6) Full modularisation
More data centres will be constructed in full modular mode to address the problems of slow construction and high initial investment costs. Modular designs evolve from component modularisation to architecture modularisation; finally achieving full modularisation of the data centre. The fully modular design enables fast deployment, flexible capacity expansion, high energy efficiency and simple operation and management.
7) Simplified power supply architecture-lithium batteries becoming the norm
The power supply and distribution systems of a traditional data centre are complex and fragmented; it occupies an enormous footprint, and it is challenging to locate faults. A simplified power supply architecture reduces power conversion times, shortens the power supply distance and footprint, improves the space utilisation rate and enhances system energy efficiency. Compared with lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries have advantages in terms of footprint and service life. As the cost of lithium batteries decreases, lithium batteries seeing widely used in data centres in the future.
Full modularisation of the data centre enabling fast deployment, flexible capacity expansion, high energy efficiency and simple management and operation.
8) The convergence of liquid cooling and air cooling; more indirect evaporative cooling and less chilled water cooling
GPU and NPU applications generate an increasing demand in high-density scenarios, and liquid cooling systems are becoming more and more popular. Some storage and computing services however are still in low-density scenarios. To quickly adapt to uncertain IT service requirements in the future, the cooling solution must be compatible with the air cooling system and liquid cooling system. Besides, the complex architecture of the chilled water cooling system hinders quick deployment— and smooth operation and management. An indirect evaporative cooling system, with a modular architecture, shortens the deployment time and simplifies operation and management. Also, by fully utilising the natural cooling resources, the power consumption of the cooling system is going to be significantly reduced. In areas with a suitable climate, the chilled water system is replaced gradually by an indirect evaporative cooling system.
9) Dynamic linkage between bits and watts
Reducing PUE doesn’t mean that the overall energy consumption of the data centre is optimal. Instead of focusing on the data centre energy facilities, the energy consumption of the data centre needs to be evaluated and optimised as a whole. Through full-stack innovation among facility, IT, chipsets, data, and cloud, bits and watts are going to work collaboratively to achieve dynamic energy-saving and optimal energy efficiency of the entire system.
As the data centre facility becomes more intelligent; the network security threats are getting more complicated. The data centre must have six features: resilience, security, privacy, safety, reliability, and availability to prevent attacks and threats from environments and malicious personnel, including network intrusion threats.
Reducing PUE doesn’t mean that the overall energy consumption of the data center is optimal. Instead of focusing on the data centre energy facilities, the energy consumption of the data centre needs to be evaluated and optimised as a whole.