Verizon Wireless Buys Colorado Fab Site

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Verizon Wireless has acquired a former Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. chip plant in Colorado Springs, Colo. and plans to convert the 108,450 square foot building into a next-generation data center. The company expects to take about a year to complete work on the facility, which will be part of Verizon Wireless’ plans to expand its network capacity to accommodate growth in video traffic.

The project is the latest to feature the conversion of a former semiconductor facility for use as a data center. Like data centers, semiconductor plants require large power capacity, limiting the need for acquiring additional power from utilities. Some previous conversions:

  • In 2006 HP purchased three buildings on the Austin, Texas campus of Freescale Semiconductor for use as part of its massive consolidation of 85 legacy data centers into six new facilities.
  • Intel (INTC) converted one of its silicon chip fabrication facilities into a high-density data center, including an ultra-high density section supporting up to 30kw per cabinet. A video tour is available.
  • In 2008, Fortune Data Centers announced that plans to convert a former Seagate fabrication facility in San Jose, Calif. into a 140,000 square foot data center. 

Verizon Wireless paid $6.4 million for the site near Garden of the Gods Road in Colorado Springs, which was built for Vitesse in 1997 and used to make gallium arsenide chips. Vitesse paid $27.4 million to buy the building in 2002, but then closed the facility a year later.

“We were originally planning to build the center on a site in the Denver area, but as we began to investigate the available existing properties, we found it was more cost effective to buy and retrofit an existing building,” Verizon Wireless spokesman Bob Kelley told the Colorado Springs Gazette. ”There are a lot of good properties on the market that could be converted cost effectively for our needs, and we found such a property in Colorado Springs.”

The Vitesse site is located across the street from a major facility for Verizon Business (MCI), which was trying to lease some of the office space in the 800,000 square foot facility. Kelley said converting part of that site would have been mor expensive than acquiring and converting the shuttered Vitesse building.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief 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.

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