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Smart data centre – the vital ingredient for the future of connected cars

As the number of connected vehicles grows, so too does the need for the data centres that support connected services. Megatrends spoke to data centre operator Verne Global to find out more. By Rachel Boagey

Automotive manufacturers are increasingly using high-performance computing (HPC) to create the next-generation of connected cars. However, with these cars comes data, and an increasing need to effectively manage the information and power consumption required for such applications.

Verne Global is a UK-based developer of energy efficient data centre campuses, and has recently seen many developments in the connected car landscape, providing assistance to the automotive industry in the form of effective data management through data centres. With its newly built 44-acre data centre campus in Keflavik, Iceland, Verne can enable OEMs to meet their corporate objectives by providing a scalable solution that addresses both their immediate and future power requirements and data needs.

Jorge Balcells, Director of Technical Services, Verne Global

Jorge Balcells, Director of Technical Services, Verne Global

Megatrends spoke to Jorge Balcells, Director of Technical Services at Verne Global, who believes that to successfully create the next-generation of connected cars, companies need to be able to manage their data and power consumption effectively. “A connected car is an incredibly powerful tool for manufacturers to gather data from their users. Huge amounts of data from telemetry, fuel consumption and driving patterns can help manufacturers optimise their new car designs.”

This requires a vast quantity of data to be collected, transferred and analysed. Explaining the importance of effective data management and power consumption, Balcells noted, “This data needs to be stored and managed, which of course requires power and results in rising operational costs. The less time manufacturers have to spend on data crunching, the more they can invest in revenue producing areas.”
Big data centres

Verne works with many automotive OEMs and while some manufacturers may lag behind when it comes to managing their data and power consumption, Balcells explained that BMW is achieving carbon and cost improvements by moving some of its computer systems to the Verne Global data centre in Iceland. “By moving ten of its high performance computing (HPC) clusters, which it uses for crash simulations, aerodynamic calculations and computer aided design and engineering from its German facilities, BMW will reduce annual carbon emissions by 3,570 metric tons, and reduce the cost of powering its HPC applications by as much as 82%.”

Balcells explained the importance of combining with OEMs to help develop connected car technology, and noted that despite Verne’s recent developments in data centre infrastructure, none of it would have been possible without partnering with OEMs for their expertise. “As with any endeavour, two heads think better than one. While we are very good at what we do – data centre infrastructure – we must partner with car manufacturers and understand their computing needs, in order to work together in synergy to achieve the ultimate goal: data crunching from driver to manufacturer.”

Verne Global server cabinets

Verne Global server cabinets

The connected car is always experiencing change and developments, and for large-scale power users, such as data centres, thinking outside the box has become critical in realising the necessity for coming up with alternative power sources. Asked for his opinion on what will lead connected car development over the next decade, he explained that battery technology will be a key megatrend. “For many years we have heard about how impractical electric powertrains are for cars.” He continued, “As well as being too inefficient, they’re too expensive and too heavy. But today we are seeing more investment into the technology than ever before. Batteries are now lighter, longer-lasting, and can be charged quickly.”

As technology continues to progress, Balcells explained that battery performance will continue to improve. He added, “As such, it’s Verne Global’s aim to give manufacturers an ‘information factory’ – a place to analyse all of that collected data, enabling them to keep developing these new technologies.”

From effective data storage solutions to efficient power management, data centre operators like Verne will play an increasingly important role in automotive industry stakeholders’ connected car strategies.

This article appeared in the Q3 2014 issue of Automotive Megatrends Magazine. Follow this link to download the full issue.

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