Silicon Valley Server Farm


Data centers are the backbone of the Information Age, providing data storage for websites and databases, and supporting virtually every large-sized private corporation and institution. But computer power supplies are not very efficient. In many cases they have been designed for low upfront cost rather than long-term high efficiency. 

The most significant problems are increased electrical usage and increased heat. Heat created by these inefficiencies requires air conditioning, as well as spacing, and processing power considerations. Data centers can use 100 times more electricity than a typical office building (on a square foot basis), so energy costs are a major concern.

With financial support from the California Energy Commission, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) teamed with Silicon Valley giants including Sun, Intel, Cisco, and many other industry partners, to demonstrate technologies that have the potential to reduce the operating cost of data centers by billions of dollars a year, while maintaining or even improving reliability, lengthening the life of servers, and saving energy.


Traditional solar power systems convert the DC power generated by the panels into Alternating Current (AC) so it can be passed through an AC grid. But then it must be converted back into DC at a rectifier before it can be used at its destination. Both operations yield a loss of power, sometimes in the double-digits of percentage. Power from the grid must also be run through a rectifier at each and every destination before it can be used.

With Nextek’s Direct Coupling® strategy and power systems, DC solar power is passed through a DC microgrid directly to its destination, without the need for any conversion. Power from the AC grid is converted at a single rectifier in the gateway (instead of a rectifier at each destination device) before being passed into the DC microgrid. This system uses all available power from the cheapest source first, before supplementing from the grid.

With this configuration, solar power from the photovoltaic panels passes through our gateway directly to the 380VDC bus of the datacenter, nearing 100% efficiency.


  • By distributing DC throughout the data center instead of AC from the electricity grid, electrical power losses are reduced.
  • Fewer parts are required to convert energy.
  • DC distribution reduces facility cooling needs by limiting the number of converters (wasted energy become heat) and increases available floorspace and overall system reliability.
  • The seamless integration of solar, wind and other renewable power sources as part of the new DC architecture at the site is an added benefit.

Download the Silicon Valley Server Farm Case Study PDF