Yahoo's 'Chicken Coop' Data Center Design

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Yahoo’s new data center in Lockport, New York will feature a new design that the company has dubbed the Yahoo Computing Coop. Chief Yahoo David Filo announced the new design today in a blog post, saying the name was adopted “because it looks like something chickens live in” and will use outside air to cool Yahoo’s servers.

“For data center geeks, we expect our Buffalo data center design will have an annualized average PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.1 or better,” said Filo. That would challenge the most efficient facilities built by Google (GOOG), which has an average PUE of 1.16 for its six company-built data centers, with one facility currently running at a PUE of 1.12.

With its Lockport design, Yahoo is joining Google on the cutting-edge of energy efficiency by running a data center without chillers, which provide refrigerated water for cooling systesm and are among the most energy-intensive components of a data center.

In adopting a design that is less reliant on chillers, Yahoo is following the lead of Google (GOOG), which recently built a data center in Belgium that operates without any chillers. Google executives expect the Belgium facility will soon be the company’s most efficient, and may push its PUE below 1.1.

Plans filed today with the town of Lockport indicate that the Yahoo Computing Coops will be metal prefabricated structures measuring 120 feet by 60 feet. The company plans to use five of these structures in its Lockport complex. Each of the coops will have louvers built into the side of the building to allow cold air to enter the computing area. The complex is being laid out to take advantage of prevailing wind direction, which would blow directly into the louver system.

Each coop also has a peaked roof, with a “penthouse” running along the top of the structure to manage the release of  waste heat from the hot aisle, according to the Buffalo News.  

Site plans suggest the coops are designed to support 5 megawatts of computing load.  The facility is designed to be completed in two phases, with a first phase using 10 megawatts of power and a second phase adding 15 megawatts.  

Filko said the NewYork project is the next step in a long-term process to improve Yahoo’s data center energy efficiency.    

“Today we’re committing to reduce the carbon intensity of our data centers by at least 40% by 2014,” Filo wrote. “In other words, we’ll decrease our average electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from our data centers around the world. We’ll get there through a combination of innovative data center design, improving how we utilize our servers, cloud computing, and locating our data centers in areas where cleaner energy is available.”

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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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10 Comments

  1. Brian Johnston

    groovy!

  2. mcalwell

    Why not use the waste heat constructively? It could be either pumped into nearby homes for heating or used with heat exchangers to drive turbines (a la hydrothermal energy)

  3. Chris

    mcalwell, the Carnot efficiency isn't very good for using the heat in a turbine. You might be able to use it to grow fruit and vegetables in a greenhouse though.