As data centre power consumption surges, energy efficiency solutions needed

By Huawei

The advent of artificial intelligence and large language models have led to increased energy consumption in computing, with data centres known to be significant energy users. Advanced cooling systems, however, can help ameliorate the issue and maximise operational efficiency.

With increased demands for compute and higher energy consumption, data centres can be optimised through the use of advanced cooling systems, such as those utilising chilled water. Image: Canva

Since ChatGPT, a chatbot based on a large language model (LLM), was first introduced by OpenAI in November 2022, several countries have announced plans to develop their own LLMs which can support applications across multiple industry sectors.


Last December, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), alongside other research institutions such as AI Singapore (AISG) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), announced the launch of the National Multimodal LLM Programme (NMLP).


The initiative, which supports national-level strategies in artificial intelligence and research and development, aims to develop a base model that accounts for the Southeast Asian region’s multilingual environment.


The growing adoption of generative AI and LLMs will lead to increasing energy consumption of data centres in the coming years. Data centres are known to be significant energy users due to the high amount needed to power and cool servers.


The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that data centres and data transmission networks account for 1 to 1.5 per cent of global electricity use respectively. The IEA has also said recently that global electricity consumption from data centres, cryptocurrencies and AI could double between 2022 and 2026.


Power usage effectiveness, or PUE, a calculation of data centre energy efficiency first introduced in 2007, has become the most significant metric for governments and organisations seeking to monitor energy use trends and to maximise operational efficiency.

Optimised cooling with chilled water


Data centre cooling systems will play a pivotal role in maximising operational efficiency and reducing energy consumption. Conversely, such systems themselves can also account for a substantial portion of energy usage.

The Huawei FusionCol8000-C supports higher water temperatures without the need for a raised floor, reducing capital expenditure. Image: Huawei

In a traditional chilled water system, the incoming water temperature at the computer room air handler generally ranges between 7 and 15 degrees Celsius. This low water temperature limits the optimisation of PUE.


Additionally, the chilled water system often requires the installation of a raised floor, leading to higher capital expenditure.


An in-room horizontal airflow chilled-water cooling solution for medium and large data centres, such as the Huawei FusionCol8000-C, supports higher water temperatures without the need for a raised floor.


With an inlet water temperature of up to 20 degrees Celsius, the power consumption of the chiller compared to a tradition system is reduced by 15 per cent, effectively reducing the overall energy consumption of the chilled water system by more than 20 per cent.


Having received the TIA-942 Rated 1 to 4 Product Certifications, the Huawei FusionCol8000-C is the world’s first data centre fan wall product that meets the TIA-942 standard.


Developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the TIA-942 standard is a globally accepted standard.


A “1 to 4” rating represents satisfactory compliance with relevant industry-endorsed standards across telecommunications, power, mechanical infrastructure, architecture, fire protection, security, and monitoring, and “4” represents the highest level of reliability.

Uninterrupted power with a lower footprint


In today’s digital age, data centres are expected to deliver exceptional performance with high levels of reliability and availability for their customers. They need to safeguard critical data and information, offer seamless service delivery, and be engineered for resilience, security and efficiency while remaining sustainable.


Traditional power supply systems in large data centres often adopt setups that involve numerous complex devices from different manufacturers, presenting challenges such as intricate on-site installation and commissioning, as well as elevated safety risks.

The Huawei FusionPower6000 3.0 provides uninterrupted power for data centres and features an AI-based temperature prediction system. Image: Huawei

The Huawei FusionPower6000 3.0 is an example of a prefabricated solution which provides uninterrupted power for data centres while minimising the footprint of power supply and distribution systems.


It has an iPower intelligent feature that provides functions such as full-link visualisation, an AI-based temperature prediction system, and lifespan prediction for key components, improving the reliability of the power supply and distribution system of the data centre.


Having received the TIA-942 Rated 1 to 4 Product Certifications, the Huawei FusionPower6000 3.0 is the world’s first data centre power distribution product that meets the TIA-942 standard.

Improving sustainability for data centres


As developments in AI and LLMs require ever-greater computing power and increase the demands for energy consumption, governments around the world are looking at how to improve sustainability for data centres.


Working with solution partners such as Huawei, which has a track record of developing sustainable data centre solutions, can help them achieve their goals of spurring innovation while staying on track for climate goals.