Josiah McClurg with adviser R. C. N. Pilawa-Podgurski
Practical and theoretical implications of series-connected voltage domains as a method of efficient power distribution for high-power digital loads, such as network switch rooms and data centers, are being investigated. Considering the environmental, social, and financial effects that the Internet has on humanity, it is crucial that this important network be backed by a reliable and highly efficient power delivery system. Applying series-connected voltage domains represents the potential for an order-of-magnitude decrease in energy losses, without sacrificing computational performance.
We have implemented a proof-of-concept design using power-aware computing techniques to balance the voltage of series-connected servers, begun work on a hardware prototype for overvoltage protection, and completed preliminary modeling for system reliability. Centralized load balancing software has been extended to a distributed model, a more rigorous reliability analysis performed, and a multiphase converter prototype for differential power processing applications is being implemented. We designed and tested a high-density (200 watt, 30 square cm) bidirectional power converter, with special circuitry and control to handle string initialization with high-current loads.
The project goal is to physically implement a reliable and highly-efficient cluster of series-connected servers, as a proof of concept, while working with industry partners to make this technology viable for implementation on a large scale. Particular emphasis is placed on physical test design and experimental validation.
This research is made possible by funding through PSERC, Google, Texas Instruments, and the NSFGRFP.