Microsoft Iowa Facility Will be 'Unique'

Microsoft isn't offering many details, but says its new Iowa data center will feature significant design innovations.

Microsoft isn't offering many details about how its new data center in West Des Moines, Iowa. But the company is clear about one thing: it will feature meaningful design innovations.

"We believe it will be significantly different than anything that has come before," said Mike Manos, General Manager of Data Center Services Mike Manos. "We are not willing to share specifics just yet, other than the fact that this will represent the combined learning, research, and engineering we have come up with over the course of the program."

Microsoft's CBlox data center containers will continue to figure prominently in the new designs. "Containers are central to our scale," said Manos, who added that it's safe to "assume that the Iowa facility would be container-enabled."

Microsoft announced yesterday that it will invest $500 million in the new Iowa data center, will create 50 to 75 jobs paying $70,000 a year, and take 12 to 18 months to complete.

Rather than standardizing on a single design approach, Microsoft has introduced new design refinements in each of its new data centers. Manos compares them to battleships and aircraft carriers, in which the "Quincy class" facility is surpassed by the innovations in the "Chicago class" and "Dublin class" centers.

The biggest shift in design for the new construction projects in Northlake, Illinois and Dublin, Ireland was the introduction of shipping containers packed with thousands of servers. Microsoft will forego a traditional raised-floor environment in Chicago, and will instead fill one floor of the huge facility with more than 150 of its CBlox containers.

Manos says energy efficiency will be a key driver in the design improvements in West Des Moines. Microsoft has maintained an intense focus on optimizing the use of its data center power.

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