Energy & Data: The Duo Defining Our Global Future


Published on February 10th, 2019 | by Sponsored Content

February 10th, 2019 by Sponsored Content 

By Jim Witham, CEO of GaN Systems*

The last decade of global economic change has been driven largely by the forces of the internet and an unexpected cohort of companies that have irreversibly changed the behavior and expectations of business and society. Billions of smart consumer devices, robotic factories, industrial IoT and the pending rise of autonomous vehicles have created a nearly unquenchable thirst for growth in digital infrastructure and data centers. The very fabric of economic life today is inextricably linked to data. But if you look closer, these game-changing technologies that we believe define our global future all rely either directly or indirectly on an even more basic element: energy.

Over the past year, in conversations with corporate leaders, it is more evident than ever before that GaN technology is the clear and undisputed solution for driving more robust growth and product innovation, as well as enabling companies to elevate the conversation and engage more deeply in sustainability initiatives.

Why GaN?

Gallium nitride (GaN) power semiconductors overcome the silicon limitations and facilitate power electronics development, due to their ability to increase the overall power efficiency as the GaN power semiconductors work effectively at higher frequencies and power levels with minimal losses, unlike silicon semiconductors.

This leads to reduced power losses and smaller systems in many power-reliant markets such as data centers – creating substantial energy and cost savings. The rising demand for operational efficiency facilitates the prospects of GaN power semiconductors due to such noteworthy features like high switching frequency that doubles the energy efficiency improvement in these naturally bidirectional systems.

In a technologically interdependent world, electricity is the new market maker. Some of the most important global industries of today are highly energy-intensive: transportation, data centers, consumer electronics and industrial manufacturing. Their future is gated by a relationship between energy and the digital data that initiated their transformation.

I have seen firsthand that companies around the world are looking for ways to achieve improved energy efficiency, not only for the quarterly bottom line, but in relationship to the social values that they hold in their industry and as global citizens. Many companies already employ strategies of alternative sources of energy as well as conservation practices. While these are certainly an important part of the equation, the ability to have significantly more efficient power conversion and to be able to design new kinds of power systems not imaginable before is the next important part of the equation.

Energy & Data Trends

Looking ahead to 2019, we predict that the ever-increasing influx of massive amounts of data and the explosive demand for energy will continue to be deeply linked – and will become even more so demanding with the rise of 5G, AI, and blockchain technologies.

  • Highly efficient residential and commercial energy storage systems using GaN technology to enable high efficiency distribution, storage and on-demand access to renewable energy.
  • Development of mainstream ways to supply portable power to residents and businesses in the aftermath of natural disasters such as storms and fires. A growing number of home energy storage projects are underway in several cities around the world. One such project highlighted was Mandalay Homes, a new housing development in Prescott Valley, AZ where 2,900 residences will be outfitted with solar and 8 kilowatt-hour energy storage systems.
  • Continued push for energy efficiency and density – as computationally heavy demands grow and tech such as AI, electric vehicle, 5G and blockchain begin to be integrated across the infrastructure and operations of key industries
  • Using GaN technology in power supplies to create smaller and more energy efficient hardware. This will enable blockchain to scale for business needs by processing more transactions per second without significantly increasing energy costs.
  • IoT devices will require the data center industry to continue to reinvent itself – not only incrementally adding more security and robustness, but also evolving the edge with new kinds of edge/locally-focused data centers.

At the center of these 2019 trends is the undeniable need for new ways of thinking about and addressing the power needs of the diverse technology that surrounds us. Our future depends on wise choices about energy, technology innovation and global social values.

If we are counting on a data-fueled future, then we cannot ignore the undeniable link between data, data centers and energy. We cannot claim to solve problems of transportation and CO2 levels, change the quality of life through near-ubiquitous global internet access or magically transform manufacturing into a “smart” industry if we merely end up transferring the negative impacts from one marketplace or geography to another.

If the promised dawn of economic abundance and social opportunity is to be realized, then the leaders of these data and energy-reliant industries must embrace come 2019 – new business practices, emerging technologies of energy conversion efficiencies and a commitment to increased use of renewable sources.

Jim Witham GaN

About the Author: Jim Witham is the CEO of GaN Systems. His career has focused on bringing new technology, like GaN Systems’ world’s best performing power transistors, to the Electronics market.

This article was supported by GaN Systems. 


Tags: AI, blockchain, energy efficiency, Gallium nitride, GaN, GaN Systems, Internet of Things, IoT, Jim Witham, smart devices

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