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New NEC server has built-in batteries for backup power

The electronics conglomerate says the new server can eliminate the need for UPSs in data centers

NEC's new high-end server contains swappable battery packs, intended to provide backup power without the need for an external uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in data centers.

The new rack-mounted server is part of NEC's main "Express5800" line. The company said the internal batteries will cut power use, outlast traditional UPS systems and allow for more compact data centers.

The rack-mountable server can hold up to two battery packs, although it ships with only one. When both are used, they can deliver 100 watts for 15 minutes and 30 seconds, or six minutes and 40 seconds with a single battery. The dual setup can provide power for 3 minutes and 40 seconds when the server is maxed out at 311 watts.

The internal nickel-metal hydride batteries used in the setup can last about five years before needing replacement, longer than most UPS systems, NEC said. As everything is stored internally, the new servers can also save space, and by eliminating the need for a UPS, the server reduces the number of times power has to be converted between alternating and direct current, which cuts electricity use.

The server went on sale in Japan on Wednesday, costing from ¥316,000 (US$3,760), and shipments will begin Dec. 26. NEC said it is considering selling the server internationally, but has yet to decide where or when.

The use of internal batteries as backup in servers has slowly grown in recent years. Google surprised many in the industry when in 2009 it revealed its home-grown servers, complete with their own onboard batteries for power outages.

NEC's new servers come in several configurations, with Intel Xeon processors, up to 384GB of memory, and four 2.5-inch drives that can hold up to 4TB of SATA storage.

NEC is one of Japan's largest manufacturers of servers for data centers. Power outages are a major concern for any data center, but have been a focus in Japan, where earthquakes and other natural disasters have often caused outages in the past.


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