Data Center Designed for 500 Watts/SF

If you track the data center industry, you’re probably used to seeing impressive numbers for power loads and data center engineering. But I took notice of a mention of “the world’s highest density data center at 500 Watts/SF” in an article at Data Center Journal (link via John Rath). The story, which announces a new Denver-area data center for CH2M HILL, makes a passing reference to the fact that the engineering firm designed this way-high-density data center.

So who’s the tenant requiring 500 watts per square foot? The project is described in a PDF document on the CH2M Hill web site, noting that the project is for a “confidential client.” The IDC Architects web site has additional information, which doesn’t name the client but identifies the facility’s location – Hillsboro, Oregon. Some quick Googling reveals that Hillsboro is the site of several data centers, including facilities operated by Fortix/ViaWest and The Spine Group. But the obvious suspect in Hillsboro is the Sun Solution Center where Sun Microsystems runs stress tests on high-performance computing applications.

“The HPC benchmarking group runs numerically intense scientific or technical applications in fields such as MCAE, seismic processing, financial modeling, signal processing, oil reservoir simulation, and computational fluid dynamics,” Sun notes in describing its work at Hillsboro. That would explain why Sun would need all that power capacity.

Is this the “world’s highest density data center?” I suspect there may be others in this range in the works. If you know of an installation with similar specs, feel free to share your insight in the comments. In any event, the documents are an interesting read.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.


  1. ACS is there also, running all of Nike and other clients.

  2. Rob Roy

    The diagram on the CH2M Hill web site looks like an intel design from 24/7 in Orlando. At the conference they explained that it was not a complete mission critical design though. The site was lacking any generator backup.If the utility was off for longer than the UPS battery run time then the sites go dark.

  3. IDC Architects is the engineer of record for this facility. It is designed as a high end super computing facility and has generators backing up the critical loads but not compute servers. The facility design includes the capability of adding additional generators for 100% backup of server load. We designed this facility as well as others in the 400-500 w/sf range. Please call for additional questions or comments; 503-872-4644