Scaling Power Racks for Data Centers: A Look at a Modular Power Shelf from Bel Power

September 05, 2018 by David Jones

This News Brief takes a look at a new power shelf offered from Bel Power.

Cloud-based computing and processing-intensive applications require a lot of scalable power solutions. Here's a look at a recent power shelf option from Bel Fuse.

Power is a pain point for designers across many applications. From wearables to automotive, power demands are increasing while also trying to fit into shrinking footprints and increasing efficiencies

One of the most notable areas where power demands are changing is in data centers and other applications where processing power—say, cryptocurrency mining—comes at the cost of heavy, large, and hot power systems. 

Bel Power is one of the companies looking to make power smaller, more efficient, and more scalable for these applications. They recently released a new power shelf with the intent of addressing these issues.

SPSPFE3-07 Power Shelf

Bel Power Solutions announced a series of new 18kW power shelves last month that are compatible with Open Compute rack design. Late last week, the company unveiled the SPSPFE3-07 power shelf, which it said offers rectification, system management and power distribution from HVDC mains, or 240/380Vdc, into a main output of 12Vdc that can be used to power intermediate bus architectures up to 15kW in high-performance servers, routers and network switches.

Bel Power said the shelf can be configured with up to 6X PFE3000-12-069A or TET3000-12-069RA power supplies that are both hot swap and redundancy capable. The company said the shelf uses the I2C/PMBus protocol, which allows complete monitoring of supplies, controls, and programming. In addition, overtemperature, overvoltage, and output overcurrent are standard on the device.


The SPSPFE3-07 power shelf. Image courtesy of Bel Power.


The announcement came about two weeks after the company announced the SPSPFE3-05G and SPSPFE3-06 power shelves, which provide rectification, system management, and power distribution from three-phase AC (3W+N+PE) power into a main output of 12 VDC also for immediate bus architectures up to 15 kW.

The shelves can be configured with similar power supplies as the above and have two three-phase AC inputs, according to the company. Cooling is controlled by the DSP controller. The shelf is compatible with Open Compute rack design with single or triple output bus bar, [SPSPFE3-05G triple or SPSPFE3-06G single].

“Our shelves offer an extremely good conversion efficiency across the entire load range,” according to Nicola Cinagrossi, Director of Engineering at Bel Power Solutions and Protection. “Their compactness and modularity provide our customers with the required flexibility to select the most adequate power architecture at data center level and power configuration at rack level.”

He said the company’s engineering team can engage with customer technical teams for advice and simulation capabilities to provide the most appropriate solution from a technical standpoint. 

Cinagrossi added that the shelves can be paralleled to offer solutions for high power racks and can be used in 5+1 and 3+3 redundant configurations. Ethernet controllers are used for monitoring and control. In terms of mechanical specifications, the shelves are designed to be compatible in single or triple busbar configurations. In addition, the shelves are based on a modular concept, therefore the company can offer customized solutions over a brief period of time.


Addressing the Challenges of Scaling Processing-Intensive Applications

Paul Teich, a principal analyst at DoubleHorn, told All About Circuits that the line between high-performance computing and AI-enabled machine learning and deep learning has become very blurred. Using applications in an AI or deep learning environment requires high density and strong power delivery. He noted that two of the company’s 1U power shelves can deliver up to 28.8 k2W within a single rack.“Delivering that kind of power within a small footprint with best possible efficiency will be a big draw for hyperscale installations,” Teich said. “Using only 2U of rack height enables populating a rack with a lot of processors, GPUs, FPGAs, and other compute accelerators.”

Rob Enderle, principal analyst of the Enderle Group, told All About Circuits that energy consumption is one of the most expensive ongoing costs for a data center and products that accommodate this capability are not often highly appreciated.

“Both of these products fill critical niches in terms of power management at a rack level and appear to embrace the critical functions [including redundancy and compatibility]  required by both solutions,” according to Enderle. “Given the increased need to manage power at a rack level to control energy cost and manage heat in a data center, I expect we’ll see increased competition [among] products in this class going forward.”

Enderle is certainly right about that. Competitors like Mean Well and TDK Lambda, among others, are also developing power solutions for scalable applications.

Which power solutions are you familiar with? Do you have experience with power management for applications like those discussed in this article? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

1 Comment
  • P
    peterlee September 06, 2018

    Great Article, i always look forward to read more like this. really helpful. keep it up!

    Like. Reply