In Iowa, A Field Becomes a Billion-Dollar Google Server Farm
December 2nd, 2013 By: Rich Miller
It’s not exactly “Field of Dreams.” But a field in Iowa provides evidence of how the data center revolution can transform a piece of empty land into a key Internet traffic hub in a matter of months.
The 1,000 acre property, located amid farmland about four miles south of Google’s initial facility in Council Bluffs, was purchased in 2007 to provide expansion space. In 2011 the land was vacant. But that has changed dramatically as the search giant adds capacity. In early 2013 the first two phases of data center space were completed. Photos from Google Maps in fall of 2013 show three additional buildings have been added, while more land is being cleared for future construction, which appears to include space for at least three more data center facilities.
Google plans to spend more than $1.5 billion to build Internet infrastructure in Council Bluffs, a city of 62,000 nested along the Missouri River, across the river from Omaha, Nebraska. The city offers an ideal environment for data center development – strong energy infrastructure, lots of land ready for development, and a skilled workforce. Google’s decision to build in Iowa has since been validated by Microsoft and Facebook, which are also building data center campuses in Iowa.
Council Bluffs is one of five locations across the U.S. where Google is building out massive data center hubs to power its network of Internet services. The others are in North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Oregon. These sites were chosen in 2006 and 2007, and saw a preliminary round of construction in which Google built one or perhaps two large server farms. But the company is now pumping more than $2 billion per quarter into a global data center construction program.
Rather than finding new locations to build, Google is expanding at existing campuses where it can take advantage of its scale, building upon available power and fiber infrastructure. It’s an approach that allows it to get the biggest bang for its data center investment dollars, and underscores the importance of the company’s initial site selection decisions.
Here’s a look at how Google’s campus in Iowa has progressed, illustrated in satellite photos from Google Maps and Pottawattamie County:
This is quite impressive. 3 buildings with 9 generator groups each. That 57 MW if each group is a pair of 1 MW generator (most likely 1.5~2MVA, but let’s be conservative here).
At 250W per server and a PUE of 1.1 (current Google fleet TTM PUE) that’s enough to house 196,000 servers (or google rack units if you provide 250 watts to servers and storage bays alike).