Video Tour: Google Data Center in South Carolina

Infrastructure team talks about company’s $1.2 billion data center campus

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

January 5, 2015

2 Min Read
Video Tour: Google Data Center in South Carolina
Google’s infrastructure team is experimenting with using this rainwater retention pond as a source of water for the South Carolina data center’s cooling system. (Photo: Google)

Providing a rare look inside its data center operations, Google recently posted a video describing its data center in Berkeley County, South Carolina, including descriptions of the facility’s cooling system and security measures.

The company announced it would build the South Carolina data center in 2007. Including an expansion project in 2013, Google’s total investment in the site amounts to $1.2 billion.

Google spends tons of money on data center infrastructure. Just this morning we reported on a $66 million data center expansion the company is planning in Taiwan.

If you don’t have the five and a half minutes to watch it, some of the more interesting things (beside the usual foosball tables and techs riding scooters in server aisles) in the Google data center video are:

  • Onion layers of security clearance: Very few Google employees have access to its data center campuses. But even if you can enter the campus, there are different levels of clearance required the closer you get to the heart of the territory. You need separate clearances to enter the building, to enter the corridor that lead to the data center, and then to enter the data center itself.

  • Intrusion detection via laser beams: The most secure areas of the data center have underfloor laser beams that will detect movement.

  • Unusual cooling system: Google’s vice president of data centers Joe Kava says in the video that in the six or so years that he’s been with the company, it has changed its data center cooling technology at least five times. The latest cooling system in the South Carolina data center features copper coils at the top of hot aisles that circulate cold water. Hot exhaust air rises to the top and goes through the coils, warming the water, which is then pushed to cooling towers outside before returning.

  • Hard drives destroyed by wood chipper: Google has explained its hard drive destruction processes before. In this most recent video, Kava says old hard drives that cannot be verifiably wiped clean are crushed and then shredded to bits by an industrial-grade wood chipper.

And here’s the video tour of the Google data center in South Carolina:

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