Intelligent Data Centres Issue 35 | Page 18

ETAP , produces software ( essentially a digital twins tool ) that allows designers to model the electrical powertrain for availability , efficiency and sustainability . Another company ( in which Schneider Electric has a stake ) is RIB , which develops construction management software .
Traditional Computer-Aided Design ( CAD ) platforms have long allowed users to design the layout of a facility , however , the use of ETAP ’ s software allows detailed modelling of the powertrain while RIB ’ s enables time and cost modelling . Although CAD tools have been familiar for many years , the ability to model the powertrain is new . End-users can now choose or substitute components and subsystems based on their environmental impact or energy efficiency – evaluating the effects on technical performance and pricing via digital twins before committing to physical prototypes .
The 6G effect
Fifth generation networks have been expected to make an impact for some time , but the fast millimetre wave 5G variant has been slow to materialise . 5G is , however , beginning to make an impact in open spaces with few physical barriers such as stadiums , airports and shipyards . The problem remains that a killer application to drive the need for mass adoption has yet to materialise .
An exciting prospect is 6G networks , which could offer life and experience changing functionality . 6G operates at THz frequencies and has access speeds of 1Tbps , which will deliver near ‘ air latency ’. Whereas high band 5G hits speeds around 500Mbps , with air latency aimed at 8 – 12ms . Potential use cases for 6G include embedded technology for controlling artificial limbs ( prosthetics ) through wireless Brain-Computer Interactions ( BCI ), which is an incredible prospect . In the 6G world , people could interact with their environment and other people using devices that could be held , worn , or implanted .
6G networks also have the potential to eliminate traditional base station and antenna networks because their high frequencies need a ubiquitous mesh network where everything around you has an antenna function . In theory , everything that powers up will have a built-in antenna function and become part of this new ‘ antenna free ’ network . While the network architecture may change with 6G , the computing capacity will need to grow , so placement at the Edge will become even more crucial .
Energy concerns at the Edge
Adoption of Edge infrastructure will also continue to grow . However , energy efficiency will become a critical factor , with customers demanding that Edge deployments match the capabilities of larger data centres in terms of resilience , efficiency and sustainability . Edge deployments may be smaller than traditional facilities , but the scale and volume at which the infrastructure is likely to be deployed demands its environmental impact be minimised .
Building a sustainable Edge at scale requires greater attention when selecting components , during the design and deployment stages , and use of comprehensive management systems to drive operational efficiency .
Cooling will remain an essential part of the efficiency requirements , but the challenges presented by Edge deployments – especially those in unmanned environments – will require innovative approaches in terms of technology and topology .
Air cooling is often unsuitable for Edge deployments , which are frequently located in urbanised and harsh locations where dust and other contaminants abound . Blowing such material around an unmanned or remote Edge data centre is far from ideal and even if filters were attached , the task of frequent replacement and servicing remains a key challenge – especially where cost and circularity are concerned .
With sealed and unmanned Edge data centres , therefore , liquid cooling will be required , although it is not yet clear what sort of topology will be best suited . As such , new liquid cooled architectures may emerge for the Edge at scale . Whether that involves direct-to-chip liquid cooling or chassis-based immersive cooling is yet to be seen .
Standardised metrics for sustainability
The Circular Economy – the ability to reduce , reuse and recycle technologies deployed at the Edge – will be an important consideration in 2022 and beyond . However , another area growing in importance is the need for standardised


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