Yahoo Building a Bigger Computing Coop

The exterior of the Yahoo Computing Coop buildings in Lockport, New York. The data center opened for business today.

The exterior of the Yahoo Computing Coop buildings in Lockport, New York. The company is planning to expand its campus in Lockport. (Photo: Yahoo)

Yahoo’s ultra-efficient “chicken coop” data center in upstate New York is getting bigger. The Internet company has announced plans to invest an additional $168 million in the campus for its hydro-powered, wind-cooled server farm in Lockport, N.Y. The expansion will include an additional 7.2 megawatts of data center space, along with a call center. The projects are expected to create 115 jobs between them.

The expansion was expected, as Yahoo indicated last year that it would buy additional land at its property in Lockport. The company is seeking breaks on property taxes and sales taxes on servers and equipment for the project, according to the Buffalo News. The New York Power Authority will expand the site’s power capacity to support the new construction.

“We are happy to be a part of the Western New York community and are excited about our expansion plans,” said David Dibble, executive vice president of central technology for Yahoo. “We are appreciative of our close partnerships with local municipalities and are grateful to our outstanding workforce in Lockport. Yahoo is committed to being an environmentally responsible company, and we thank New York state and local authorities for working with us to ensure we continue to power our data center with clean energy.”

The Yahoo Lockport facility, which is optimized for air-cooling, is one of the world’s most efficient data centers, operating with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.08. The data center, which is supported by hydro-electric power from the NYPA, requires mechanical cooling for a handful of hours each year.

The first two phases of the Lockport project, built in 2010 and 2011, featured multiple 120-by-60 foot prefabricated metal structures using the Yahoo Computing Coop data center design. The coops -modeled on the thermal design of chicken coops- have louvers built into the side to allow cool air to pass through the computing area. The air then flows through two rows of cabinets and into a contained center hot aisle, which has a chimney on top. The chimney directs the waste heat into the top of the facility, where it can either be recirculated or vented through the cupola. See A Closer Look at Yahoo’s New Data Center for more photos and video.

This approach to heat management allows the Lockport data center to operate without chillers, which provide refrigerated water for cooling systems and are among the most energy-intensive components of a data center. The facility uses an evaporative cooling system during those 9 days a year when it is too warm to use fresh air. The buildings were positioned on the Lockport property to allow Yahoo to bring in cool air from either side of the coop, based on the prevailing winds.

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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.

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  1. Sean McPherson

    I'm curious about the three 1MW or so capable air-cooled chillers on the site, if they mainly use fresh-air cooling, and use evaporative cooling only 9 days. They installed 2 of the chillers when the first coops went up, and then added a 3rd onto the pad when the last ones came online (so the loop is clearly being shared between structures). I know they have a 25K ft^2 admin building in the middle, but there's no way office/admin space requires that much cooling. From what I can see, they still augment the cooling w/ mechanical cooling that's not just evaporative, or expect conditions to possibly require it. Given the 3 chillers of that size could likely reject as much as 1.5 MW each if they use 'warm' water settings (since they'd just be trying to get ambient air 'down' to what the servers are built to withstand, which Yahoo previously has said is a higher-than-average temperature), that's a non-trivial amount of additional rejection for a site that has a gross power capacity of 15 MW according to previous reports.