Singtel develops next generation of sustainable and hyper-connected data centres to support AI adoption

December 11, 2023

The global growth in AI adoption is fast fuelling the need for a new generation of green, sustainable and hyper-connected data centres optimised to support the intensive AI workloads of enterprises and cloud companies. While there are many data centres globally, there are few that are ready to handle higher power density AI workloads with a concentration of Graphic Processor Units (GPUs) that consume a lot of power and generate a lot of heat. Singtel is developing a new generation of "AI data centres (AI DCs)” that will be fit for purpose in an AI world.

Mr Bill Chang, CEO of Singtel's Digital InfraCo unit said, “With the fast-growing adoption of AI across various industries, we see an inflection point in the data centre industry for high power density, yet sustainable and hyper-connected AI DCs that are optimised to manage GPU clusters for AI workloads. This is why we are building our fourth generation data centre platform specifically tailored for such intense compute environments.” “Our latest DC Tuas under construction, is the largest at 58MW capacity, and will be the first of such fourth generation, high power density, sustainable AI DCs. DC Tuas is also designed to mitigate carbon impact through the use of lower carbon embedded materials in construction while driving greater energy efficiency by incorporating liquid cooling capabilities. DC Tuas will be one of the industry’s most efficient with its Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of around 1.23 at full load. We are also working to transition the energy for our data centres with green and renewable sources to reduce the overall carbon footprint.”

Besides DC Tuas, Singtel is developing two other state-of-the-art data centre projects in Thailand and Indonesia which will increase its total pipeline capacity beyond 200MW from its current operational capacity of 62MW in Singapore. Singtel has just secured a S$535 million five-year green loan for this operational capacity. In addition, Singtel is seeking to scale up its regional data centre business, and leading global investment firm KKR’s commitment in September to invest up to S$1.1 billion for a 20% stake in the business will support the expansion plans.

Singtel’s new generation of AI DCs will incorporate more efficient cooling solutions like direct-to-chip liquid or immersive cooling to avert over-heating and prevent expensive GPUs from damage or malfunction. These features will be integral to the high-powered, sustainable data centre environments needed to scale AI workloads. The state-of-the-art data centres will also incorporate advanced realtime server monitoring platforms to ensure smooth management of expensive GPU clusters while running multiple connected networks.

These AI DCs will be connected to Singtel's various fixed and 5G mobile networks that will be orchestrated by Singtel’s patented Paragon platformTM to serve enterprises' AI needs. This will enable smart devices like robotics and autonomous systems to be connected to the AI clusters within these data centres, allowing AI to be brought to the edge at high bandwidth and low latencies so as to enable various industry use cases. DC Tuas is also an integrated submarine cable landing station that provides excellent global connectivity with carrier neutrality, thereby making this a key platform for global enterprises and cloud companies to host their AI workloads in Singapore as a key hub in Asia.

Mr Chang added, "Within these AI DCs, we will offer a host of core services including cloud co-location services, managed hosting services and value-added GPU-as-a-Service (GPUaaS). We see growing demand from both enterprises and cloud companies to leverage our GPU cluster to complement their environments with greater agility in these AI DCs as well." Singtel has developed and deployed its GPUaaS since 2021 at the 5G@Sentosa testbed with GovTech and a number of government agencies. With the introduction of GPUaaS in combination with Singtel's leadership in data centres, fixed and 5G networks, enterprises can accelerate their development of generative AI, large language models and other AI workloads without having to incur the huge capital expenditures in acquiring both the sophisticated AI DC space and expensive GPUs. This allows enterprises and government agencies to focus and accelerate their innovation and transformation through the use of AI in their businesses.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the global GPUaaS market size is projected to grow from US$3.16 billion in 2023 to US$25.53 billion by 2030 and the Asia Pacific market is expected to see the highest growth rate during this period given the significant interest in AI from governments and enterprises in the region.

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