What's protecting your data centre?

10 Apr 12

The data centre industry has become one of the world’s most dynamically developing market sectors, constituting a crucial element of the performance of both private and public businesses. Gathering, storing and managing clients’ data requires extremely high standards; therefore, the paramount concern for a data centre business is continuity. 

Digital devices do not tolerate power supply interruptions, which are very common in the world’s electricity supplies. Voltage sags and surges along with short outages can impair the system’s operation or stop it completely. In the case of a data centre such an event could have serious consequences affecting information security and data protection. ABB’s PCS100 power protection range, made up of the Active Voltage Conditioner (AVC) and Industrial UPS (UPS-I), are fast becoming the key solution for major computer industries worldwide. With over $2.5 million in sales to the data centre industry, ABB’s AVC and UPS-I are proving to be the answer to overcoming these hurdles due to their high efficiency, reliability and small footprint in design.

In the New Zealand market, ABB’s PCS100 AVC is protecting the award-winning supercomputer centre of New Zealand digital effects company Weta Digital. About 60% of their film Avatar was computer-generated; this required vast computer processing and data storage resources, which in turn required large volumes of electricity to power both the servers and the cooling systems that prevent the centre’s 4000 blade servers and 40,000 processors from overheating. ABB’s solution of two AVCs was adopted to protect the entire site from the potentially destructive effects of voltage sags and power surges. 

This solution was mentioned in an international award recognising engineering excellence; the design consumes only 60% of the energy and is one quarter the size of comparable installations. Weta Digital selected the ABB solution on the advice of their lead engineering consultant, Richard Snow of Intellex., who commented: "With a system efficiency approaching 99%, very significant energy savings were achieved… our chosen approach means that Weta can achieve some quite significant energy savings.”

Another successful project in New Zealand that has adopted ABB’S PCS100 AVC is the National Institute of and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in Wellington, where the system protects the new climate modeling supercomputer – as well as the entire NIWA site – from voltage fluctuations.

The new IBM supercomputer is the most powerful climate research computer in the southern hemisphere. It can perform 65 trillion calculations a second , and is designed to provide fast and accurate weather and environmental forecasting as well as early warnings of severe hazards like flooding and storm surge.

Protection of the US$9.5 million supercomputer and its invaluable data from damage or destruction is vital. The computer is housed in a purpose-built clean room that is designed to withstand natural and manmade disasters like severe earthquakes, tsunamis and fire from within. It is also protected from the equally devastating effects of power surges and voltage sags that have the potential to shutdown the computing facility and damage the highly sensitive equipment. This is provided by an ABB’s PCS100 AVC active voltage conditioner.

ABB’s other offering for power protection is the PCS100 UPS-I. The UPS-I is an innovative solution for data centres and is soon to be commissioned to protect a data centre for the Swiss government.

For data centres, any power supply disruption will be particularly harmful. Rows of servers storing large amounts of information operate around the clock, and the prospective loss of critical data due to unexpected voltage sags and surges is totally unacceptable. This is why the Swiss government data centre has decided to secure data centre with the reliable efficient UPS-I.

ABB PCS 100 UPS-I provides an ideal solution in cases where power supply disruption poses a considerable risk. The UPS-I is an offline system which uses energy storage coupled through a back-up inverter to enable the downstream load to ride through short outages and very deep sags of up to 30 seconds, which allows time for PC emergency generators to start. The PCS100 UPS-I operates with speed of performance equivalent to online systems due to the revolutionary fast utility disconnect. It remains inactive until the voltage varies by +/- 10% of nominal supply. 


ABB’s AVC and UPS-I are conquering the data centre industry by overcoming concerns such as blackouts, sags and surges, and information loss, whilst providing high efficiency, reliability, and a small footprint with various storage options available.

For more information, visit ABB’s power quality web page here, or email your name to this address to subscribe to ABB’s bi-monthly magazine, The Insider.

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