HP's Technologies for Everyone Series | Energy for Everyone

by Chandrakant D. Patel, HP Chief Engineer and Senior Fellow, and Anna Tang, Executive Assistant and Coordinator, HP Affinity Groups and Virtual Communities
Apr 17, 2017 8:05 AM ET

This is the first article in a new series entitled “Technologies for Everyone.” The series will share a subset of technical and engineering fundamental courseware available on “Brain Candy” — HP’s internal branded and curated learning platform.

The 21st century innovations—driven by social, economic and ecological Megatrends—unite physical and digital systems to drive efficiency and conserve resources. As discussed in the ‘Inside the Engine Room’ article, these innovations are systemic and are built with multiple engineering disciplines and technologies. HP examples include 2D presses such as Indigo and HP Page Wide Web Press, 3D print engines, management of large number of client devices, and workplace and healthcare of tomorrow initiatives. The technology stack needed for these innovations starts with the use of multiple engineering disciplines to build flexible and configurable devices. We then build on top of it with smart layers such as machine learning and autonomous control. The entire solution is supported by end-to-end security.

Success in this multidisciplinary stack requires depth in at least one discipline, and breadth in a range of disciplines and technologies. And given the scale of the opportunity space, all of HP, not just engineers, must come together to contribute to these exciting systemic innovations.

The “Technologies for Everyone” series, created on Brain Candy, is motivated by the need to make fundamental technical disciplines readily available to everyone at HP. Employees interested in expanding their breadth and depth of knowledge can easily tap into this resource and find themselves immersed in a wealth of disciplines. Featured in this series is a compilation of introductory courses broken down into several modules. Our first course, “Energy for Everyone,” taught by Chandrakant Patel, HP’s Chief Engineer and Senior Fellow, is on the fundamental understanding of energy from a 1st and 2nd law of thermodynamics perspective. This course is designed to explain the importance of energy and sustainability in the HP portfolio.

The “Technologies for Everyone” series provide a holistic perspective of the subject. “Energy for Everyone” takes a big picture view by considering both the supply and demand side. The supply side is the pool of available energy. The demand side consists of the available energy used by the physical ecosystem and the IT ecosystem. This view provides us great insight. As an example, large scale IT data centers draw roughly about 1-20 megawatts of power. A megawatt can power approximately one thousand US homes. Assume that US has 5000 data centers at an average power of 5 megawatts. The total power needed by these 5,000-data center is 25 gigawatts. 25 gigawatts are roughly equal to the power generated by 25 nuclear power plants!

Now consider the growth opportunities in India where the “Digital India” initiative, launched by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is focused on connecting the 1.2 billion people in the country. Scaling the US data center model suggests that India would need to set aside 100 gigawatts of supply side to power the data centers necessary to connect the country’s entire population, but the supply side power generation in India is about 300 gigawatts. Clearly, data centers cannot take up one third of the supply side. Therefore, the current US deployment model will not work for India. This is an opportunity to create a new deployment model with HP’s portfolio of end-point devices.

This is a great example of the kind of knowledge being shared and problem solving discussions being had in the “Technology for Everyone” courses. An HP Labs director once opined, “If only HP knows what HP knows.” Indeed, there is great wealth of knowledge in HP’s multidisciplinary engine room. And the HP technical contributors are the faculty. This article serves as a call to join the learn, teach, and guide movement by creating content on Brain Candy in the “Technology for Everyone” series.