Pan African Data Centres and Cloud Solutions Africa hosted a webinar. This article is part one of a six-part series.

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In a bid to explore the burgeoning role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in shaping the future of data centres, the Pan African Data Centres and Cloud Solutions Africa jointly organised a webinar titled ‘AI – The driving force of future data centres’. The virtual event delved into the remarkable advancements in data centre density and the pressing need for energy efficiency and sophisticated cooling solutions.

The webinar, hosted by Amy Hopkinson, conference producer of the Pan African Data Centres 2024 event, featured a distinguished panel of industry experts:

  • Vanessa Moffat, EMEA Channel Partner manager at EkkoSense
  • Samuel Chukwukereuba, Data Centre manager, Project Implementations at Digital Realty
  • Niraj Shah, Sales and Business Development director at IX Africa
  • Keith Sullivan, director of Strategic Innovation at AFL

As the second installment of the Pan African Data Centres 2024 series, the webinar aimed to address how African and global markets are adapting to meet the demands and requirements of AI integration in data centres.

Keith Sullivan initiated the discussion by providing insights into the global landscape of AI adoption and its impact on data centres. He highlighted the rapid pace of change in AI technology over the past 14 months, particularly in the realm of GPU (graphics processing unit) advancements. Sullivan emphasised the challenges posed by the power requirements of AI clusters, leading to decreased rack and space utilisation in existing data centres.

He underscored NVIDIA’s pivotal role in driving GPU innovation, citing the release of three generations of GPUs in a short span. Sullivan elaborated on the latest offering, the Grace Blackwell, which boasts unprecedented power ratings of up to 120kW per rack. He emphasised that deploying such high-powered racks necessitates robust infrastructure and extensive provisioning for energy supply and cooling.

Addressing the implications for data centres, Sullivan noted a significant shift towards higher power densities, with plans for data centres exceeding 300Mw. While historically observed in mature markets, this trend is also gaining traction in Africa, reflecting the region’s evolving data centre landscape.

Throughout the discussion, the panellists emphasised the critical importance of energy efficiency and cooling in accommodating the rising demands of AI-powered data centres. They reiterated the need for innovative solutions to optimise energy usage and mitigate heat dissipation, thereby ensuring sustainable operations amid escalating power requirements.

In conclusion, the webinar shed light on the transformative impact of AI on data centres and underscored the imperative of prioritising energy efficiency and cooling solutions to meet the evolving needs of the digital era. As the industry continues to embrace AI-driven innovations, collaborative efforts and strategic investments in sustainable infrastructure will be essential to drive future advancements in data centre technology.

Continued in part two…