Interesting squib in the New York Times Bits blog late Wednesday regarding a start up company in Goleta called Transphorm, backed by Google and other venture capital firms.
The company promises to deliver power conversion "modules" (that sound a lot like transformers with AC/DC rectification - like the power bricks for laptop computers) based on gallium nitride instead of silicon. (And despite double majoring in Materials Science and Engineering, don't ask me about the science!)
Of interest is Google's backing, with the stated intent of applying the technology to power conversion equipment in data centers, although Google has yet to test any prototypes.
The energy savings potential noted by Transphorm is huge - hundreds of terrawatts, though that appears to be for the entire energy conversion market, certainly not for data centers alone.
With "standard" power supplies in servers and IT equipment in the mid-ninety percent efficiency range, this technology is certainly chasing a small sliver of remaining potential, but then the market is immense. It makes sense to go after data centers as an entry point due to load factors that would yield high rates of return.
It will be interesting to see the technology in action, and if it can be cost effective compared to traditional high efficiency power supplies.