In the 2nd of our series on the impact of AI on Data Centres we look at the question of where to locate the computational resources required by Artificial Intelligence models.
There has been much coverage in the IT press about the huge demand from AI operators for data centre space and power.
Some of the forecasts for demand for global data centre capacity are quite staggering showing growth as much as 300%. The latest AI chips from NVIDIA amongst others can require 200% more power than previous generations.
This expansion is welcomed by key investors, equipment suppliers, and data centre managers, but it also presents substantial challenges that warrant close attention.
In the UK, the situation is exacerbated by the over-centralisation of massive data centres designed for public cloud services in certain parts of the UK. This has led to local supply problems for land, electricity, and water. Should AI’s demand align with the predictions, these issues will only escalate dramatically.
The South East of the UK in particular is a seeing a high concentration of data centres. This is clashing with the construction of new residential areas and amplifying the strain on water and other essential utilities.
At Proximity we’ve noticed the demand for power from AI clients is striking, at times reaching 50 kW per single rack, with requests for 70 to 80 racks. To put this into perspective, the power consumption of an IT rack was once 2 to 3 kW, while a typical UK home consumes about 2.5 kW. An AI rack today could use the same energy as 25 residential homes!
The challenge to the whole data centre industry is where do you put these facilities?
Proximity believes that the answer lies in decentralising IT infrastructure across various locations, thereby avoiding excessive demand on land, electricity, and water in parts of the UK that are already under significant stress.
By utilising local connections to minimize latency, Proximity aims to offer superior services to users near the data centres.
Edge data centres are emerging as a viable solution to this challenge. By reducing the massive concentration of data centres in the UK’s most crowded regions, edge facilities can alleviate the pressure on areas where essential resources like land, electricity, and water are in short supply.
John Hall – Managing Director, Colocation at Proximity Data Centres