Building the Right Energy Infrastructure for 5G Data Centers

On June 14, 2018, 3GPP R15 was finalized in South Korea. Since then, the first phase of full-function standardization for 5G has been completed. Now, operators are moving toward 5G-oriented and DC-centric network architecture and evolution.

On Friday 5 April 2019, SK, KT, and LGU+ in South Korea will be the first operators in the world to offer 5G commercial services. Since conducting 5G field trials with Huawei in November 2017 in Gangham, Seoul, Huawei has since deployed more than 10,000 5G sites across South Korea for carrier LG U+

Let’s look a little more closely on the role data centers play. Specifically, in the 5G era, how can operators plan, design, build, maintain, and operate the energy infrastructure for data centers to support network transformation?

We recommend a solution that supports full-stack convergence planning, modular design, and smart O&M.

Full-Stack Convergence Planning

The future 5G network architecture will shift to services, IT, and cloud-based networks. These will be centrally deployed based on data centers (DCs) and DC-centered cloud network convergence. Operators need to plan and construct data center infrastructure based on live networks and target networks.

By “full-stack”, we mean data center layout planning based on the features of 5G such as:

  • Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)
  • Ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC)
  • Massive machine-type communications (mMTC)

For example, Internet of Vehicles (IoV) applications require dense edge DCs to be deployed along the main road. At the same time, to ensure latency of 1 ms, edge DCs need to provide a coverage of 1.5 to 2 km.

IT equipment based on 5G networks will see that power shifts from the conventional 3–5 kW per cabinet to the future 15–20 kW per cabinet. Accordingly, high density and high heat will pose major challenges for 5G data centers. In addition, electricity expenses account for 20% of the overall data center expenditure, and energy conservation will be one of the major requirements for 5G data centers.

Therefore, services, IT, and data center energy need to be planned and designed in a unified way. The converged solution will be the best choice for the planning and design of 5G data centers.

Modular Design

5G is superior to 4G in the following ways:

100 times faster

1 ms latency is compared to 30–50 ms

1 million connections per square kilometer.

However, in the early stage of 5G network construction, it is difficult to predict service model and network scale, which makes the planning, design, and construction of data centers much more challenging. Modular data center design enables on-demand deployment and flexible capacity expansion, better responding to uncertain network requirements and minimizing investment risks.

In terms of network construction, data centers can be reused or built. However, in any network, data centers are a heavy investment and most telecom operators have massive equipment rooms. The best choice is to reuse the assets and reduce the investment in 5G network construction.

We recommend that telecom equipment rooms are reconstructed and expanded according to the international standard for data centers.

It is imperative to avoid evolution difficulties due to adopting conventional standards for telecom equipment rooms. Reconstructing DCs does not just involve replacing air conditioners and power supplies; it starts from network planning to replan the layout of data center clusters to consider load bearing capacity, power supply and distribution, cooling, integrated cabling, automatic fire extinguishing, and smart management capabilities.

For users, network scale and capacity need to expand along with ever-increasing network requirements. Therefore, existing DCs cannot support future network evolution even if DC reconstruction takes place. Considering this, we recommend future-proof data center networks.

A mature prefabricated modular data center solution that is widely used in the industry can support fast network construction, on-demand deployment, and flexible capacity expansion.

Smart O&M eliminates ALL major incidents

Conventional data centers (or equipment rooms) are not standardized due to the variety of forms of CT equipment. Consequently, data center management depends on manpower and experience, which is chaotic and inefficient. 5G networks feature DC-centric network architecture. Data centers can be planned, designed, and constructed in a unified manner. They can also be managed using a smart management system.

In the 5G era, everything is perceivable, connected, and intelligent. A smart network management system (NMS) integrates the advantages of the IoT, network, cloud platform, and AI algorithms.

With the AI-based power supply and distribution links, nerve ends are deployed to each key component of the power supply and distribution systems. Proactive detection and early warnings shift conventional passive troubleshooting to proactive risk prevention. Faulty components are automatically isolated, and advance notifications to replace components help cut alarms by 50% alarms and completely eliminate major incidents.

With the AI-based intelligent link management, chillers, pumps, valves, and air conditioners automatically seek optimization. Intelligent optimization is supported by the automatic learning expert system. Precise hot management of the IT infrastructure in the equipment room is possible. As a result, power usage efficiency (PUE) is reduced by 8% or more. And refrigerant leaks are automatically detected to prevent pipe faults in the cooling system.

In the 5G era, the entire network is a two-layer or three-layer DC network architecture. Massive equipment rooms require a smart asset management system. Based on the IoT technology, data center resource utilization of the entire network can be increased by more than 20% through the refined physical management (U-bit identification), IT intelligent on-rack algorithm, service SPCN resource matching analysis, and 3D technology. Because of that, ROI for operators is maximized, O&M efficiency is improved by 30%, and OPEX is reduced.

In 2019, more than 60 operators will deploy 5G services. In the early stage of 5G network construction, the network scale will small and the existing equipment rooms may be sufficient.

However, looking back to how 3G and 4G developed, we will see explosive growth in 5G DCs over the next 3–5 years with the adoption of 5G and more services. We need to think, plan, and construct 5G data center energy infrastructure in advance to meet the requirements of the coming 5G era.

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