April 12th, 2010 By: Rich Miller
We begin our review of the 10 largest data centers, counting down from Number 10:
When Switch Communications unveiled the SuperNAP in the spring of 2008, there were few precedents for the scope of the facility. The 407,000 square foot data center in Las Vegas was built to accommodate up to 7,000 cabinets, with 250 megawatts of power capacity. Others have since built larger facilities as the data center arms race accelerated, but the SuperNAP is perhaps most notable not for its size but its ability to support power densities of up to 1,500 watts a square foot. Switch employs a high-density T-SCIF (Thermal Separate Compartment in Facility) containment system to fully separate the hot and cold aisles (see this video for a closer look at the T-SCIF). The SuperNAP also uses a custom cooling unit known as a WDMD (short for Wattage Density Modular Design) that can automatically switch between four different cooling options to deliver the most efficient cooling for current conditions. Switch has plans to build at least two more 400,000 square foot SuperNAPs at its Las Vegas property. For more about the SuperNAP, see A Look Inside the Vegas SuperNAP and Custom Infrastructure Powers the SuperNAP.
After years of operating in third-party facilities, Microsoft began building its own data centers in 2007 as it ramped up its battle with Google in the online services arena. Its first in-house project was a huge data center in the small Washington town of Quincy, where Microsoft invested $550 million in building a 470,000 square foot data center supported by hydro-electric power from nearby dams on the Columbia River. A year later it unveiled a similar 470,000 square foot facility in San Antonio, which features a recycled water system to support the facility’s use of more than 8 million gallons of water a month. See A Look Inside Microsoft’s Quincy Data Center and Microsoft Makes San Antonio ‘A Force’ for more on these facilities.
This huge facility in the Chicago suburbs marked the first major expansion beyond the northern Virginia market for DuPont Fabros Technology (DFT), a real estate investment trust specializing in data centers. The CH1 facility is the largest data center for DFT, a company known for building big, with several Virginia projects in excess of 350,000 square feet. After a slow start due to the recession, leasing at the huge facility picked up in 2009. Major tenants at the Chicago facility include Rackspace Hosting and ServerCentral. The facility is supported by 32 huge 2 megawatt diesel backup generators with 200,000 gallons of diesel storage, as well as 32 rotary (flywheel) UPS systems.