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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Power | The Power Supply | Power Supply Output and Ratings ]

Redundant Power Supplies

One advanced feature available on high-end machines (especially servers) but also available to the general public for those willing to pay for it, is a redundant power supply. In essence, this is a power supply that actually includes two (or more) units within it, each of which is capable of powering the entire system by itself. If for some reason there is a failure in one of the units, the other one will seamlessly take over to prevent the loss of power to the PC. You can usually even replace the damaged unit without taking the machine down. This is called hot swapping, and is an essential productivity backup for use in servers and other machines used by a number of people.

A redundant ATX power supply with two
removable power modules.

Original image Enlight Corporation
Image used with permission.

Obviously, this sort of option isn't for everyone, and these units are not cheap. After all, for starters you have (at least) two full power supplies in there! But if you need the security and can afford it, it may make sense for you. Certainly, this sort of feature is a good complement for an uninterruptible power supply--a UPS provides insurance against the power provided to the system going out, and a redundant supply provides insurance against the power within the system going out.

Redundant power supplies are commonly used in conjunction with RAID arrays in systems requiring a high degree of fault tolerance.

Next: Power Supply Loading

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