Validus Offers A More Direct Power Solution

With power and cooling issues so prevalent in the minds of IT administrators, there will be the inevitable cottage industry of companies offering some kind of fix to the problems associated with a giant electric bill.

Validus DC Systems, a startup company specializing in IT power solutions, has just closed a $10 million round of financing and will begin to ship a line of products that convert alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC) power starting early next year. The company claims it can improve energy efficiency by up to 40 percent.

Power is transmitted from power plants across the wires via AC, but the PC’s power supply has to convert it to the lower voltage DC. Along the way, there is a loss of energy in the AC-DC conversion. While minor, this adds up with each new piece of hardware in the data center.

In addition, the leakage of power from a system causes the build-up of heat, which requires cooling, and that means more power. So the cycle never ends. With DC power straight into the datacenter, Validus thinks it can reduce power requirements directly and indirectly.

“It’s about this end to end approach in datacenters, so there’s energy savings at every point in the power distribution train and it allows you to use DC power supplies in your servers, which are more efficient, said Rudy Kraus, founder and CEO of Validus.

Kraus explained that there are several conversion steps from the electrical outlet to the computer, including AC to DC and downconversion as power coming in is much higher than what the PC needs.

The Validus DC hardware can handle up to 40 megawatts of power on the high end, down to 150 kilowatts on the low end, for datacenters ranging in size from an apartment to a football field. It can use both standard issue power supplies and power cables in the datacenter.

Validus wll sell “everything before the server,” as Kraus put it. That would be power rectifiers that convert AC to DC, switch boards to reduce the voltage, energy storage units and and final conversion and distribution within the datacenter. It can take in AC power from any source, not just the local power company. You can hook up a windmill if you so wanted.

“It’s certainly an intriguing idea. I haven’t heard of anyone else talking about it,” said Charles King, principal analyst with the consultancy Pund-IT. “The key to getting this adopted would be some interesting use cases. It comes down to benefits relative to the investment, how something like this might affect total cost of ownership over time.”

Validus is just beginning customer shipments of its systems. The company declined to state which, if any, major OEMs are business partners at this time because it is still in the early launch stages.

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