Silicon photonics, Wide Band Gap, Non Volatile Memories … numerous technologies under development to reduce datacenters’ energy consumption


  • Ever-increasing internet traffic and the video streaming boom will encourage larde data center investments in the coming years.
  • Optimizing modern data centers' energy consumption is a key challenge. Also technical solutions are required for storage aspects and data flow limitations.
  • Traditionally rigid AC architectures are evolving towards flexible, modular solutions. Will DC be a solution for data centers?

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LYON, France – October 5, 2015 –“Optimizing modern data centers’ energy consumption is a key challenge”, announces Yole Développement (Yole) in its new report entitled “New Technologies and Architectures for Efficient Data Center”. And the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company adds: “Technical solutions are required to store the increasing amount of internet data safely and with minimum power consumption”.
With this new report, part of the power electronics collection of reports, Yole’s analysts propose an overview of the current challenges and limitations of datacenters. This analysis provides a comprehensive description of the datacenters’ related market values. Under this report, Yole reveals the next generation of datacenters architecture. On the other side, the market research company highlights the main technologies and analyzes the supply chain with the key players.

Data centers are huge electricity users, representing around 1.62% of the world’s consumed energy in 2014. Under this new report, Yole’s team analyses several possible scenarios for the evolution of data centers’ energy consumption. “In the actual scenario, with an average Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) of 1.8, worldwide data center energy consumption will reach 507.9 TWh by 2020”, explains Mattin Grao Txapartegy, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. And he adds: “In our hypothetical scenarios, there’s a possibility for achieving a 12.4% decrease of this number by implementing some new technologies.”

Examples from Google, Microsoft, and Facebook show that it is possible to build highly-efficient data centers, with PUEs close to 1.1. In order to address the urgency for reduced energy consumption, manufacturers are emphasizing improved efficiency of the architectural design, the equipment, the cooling system, and more.
Datacenter analysis from Yole, describes some of the more efficient modern data center architectures (modular Alternative Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) grid), as well as some upcoming technologies, such as silicon photonics and Wide Band Gap (WBG) materials that could reduce energy consumption. These new technologies are clearly emerging to relieve traffic congestion on data transmission lines and significantly improve the energy efficiency of the power distribution network.

“In future data centers, silicon photonics is generally perceived as a technical solution that will handle the increasing bandwidth up to 100Gb/s and beyond” asserts Dr Eric Mounier, Senior Analyst at Yole. But one of photonics’ intrinsic advantages is power-saving, which is a huge plus for interconnects that account for a significant part of power consumption. For example, with a 10Gb/s link, a copper interconnect will consume 10W, while silicon photonics or VCsELs solutions will consume 0.2W. This equates to a cost reduction from US$3500/year for copper to US$70/ year for photonics.

In Yole’s report, analysts review the status of the emerging silicon photonics solution for data centers, and also cite other “cool” optical solutions like all-optical switches, direct photonic links, and active optic interconnect. All of these solutions contribute to lower power consumption.
Other technologies such as emerging non-volatile memory (NVM) and WBG devices are analyzed too.

A detailed description of this report is available on, power electronics reports section.

In the actual scenario, with an average PUE of 1.8, worldwide data center energy consumption will reach 507.9 TWh by 2020 | Mattin Grao Txapartegi, Yole

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