Other Parts Discussed in Post: TIDA-00221, TIDA-00222

The power consumption of a server station or data center is easily in the megawatts – a data center with 50,000 servers likely consumes 15-20MW. What are the key technologies to manage the power supply for each server rack (Figure 1)?  Similarly, there are large electricity consumption companies in industrial and manufacturing, how does the facility manager evaluate the performance of individual process, critical equipment, or each department?

As a key piece of equipment in power distribution, a branch circuit monitor (BCM) provides necessary electrical information about individual panel branch circuits – including volts, amps, power factor, watts and kilowatt hours at a circuit level – for overload protection, load management, load balancing and cost allocation. Download the new TI Design reference design, Measurement Module for Branch Current Monitor.

How does the BCM work in a power distribution system? As an example for overload protection, a BCM alerts operator before the circuit current approaches the breaker’s trip point based on programmable alarm thresholds set to match individual branch-circuit breaker ratings. Early notification of high-current conditions enables operator to perform required preventive maintenance and avoid unnecessary outages, which is giant step forward in enhancing system reliability. The data gathered by a BCM could be stored locally and analyzed, or transmitted to conventional building management systems or data center infrastructure management via Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Modbus or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) communication channels. With these insights, data centers and facility managers can more effectively balance loads, prevent overload conditions, plan for future capacity needs, and allocate energy costs among internal departments.

 TI has a large portfolio of products, including MCU, Analog signal conditioning and processing, wired and wireless connectivity and power management for design of BCM. There are a few critical requirements need to be considered when engineers select devices and design BCM:

  • Number of channels monitored (some BCMs require 84 channels, highly integrated multiple channel ADC or MCU will benefit system BOM cost).
  • Synchronized sampling among multiple channels (Multiple ADC or MCU integrated ADC can be daisy chained and synchronized sampling frequency).
  • Measurement accuracy (signal conditioning, ADC resolution, MCU processing capability, etc.).
  • Communication capability (Isolated serial communication or Ethernet based solution)

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