1sockchuck writes: A public utility in Washington state wants to raise rates for high-density power users, citing a flood of requests for electricity to power bitcoin mining operations. Chelan County has some of the cheapest power in the nation, supported by hydroelectric generation from dams along the Columbia River. That got the attention of bitcoin miners, prompting requests to provision 220 megawatts of additional power. After a one-year moratorium, the Chelan utility now wants to raise rates for high density users (more than 250kW per square foot) from 3 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Bitcoin businesses say the rate hike is discriminatory. But Chelan officials cite the transient nature of the bitcoin business as a risk to recovering their costs for provisioning new power capacity.
1sockchuck writes: With new construction projects underway in Alabama and Tennessee, Google will soon have 5 of its 8 company-built U.S. data center campuses located in the Southeast. The strategy is unique among major cloud players, who typically have server farms on each coast, plus one in the heartland. Is Google’s focus on the Southeast a leading indicator of future data center development in the region? Or is it simply a case of a savvy player unearthing unique retrofit opportunities that may not work for other cloud builders?
1sockchuck writes: Colocation and content delivery specialist EdgeConneX is operating unmanned “lights out” data centers in 20 markets across the United States, marking the most ambitious use to date of automation to streamline data center operations. While some companies have operated prototypes of "lights out" unmanned facilities (including AOL) or deployed unmanned containers with server gear, EdgeConneX built its broader deployment strategy around a lean operations model. The company uses software to remotely control the generators and UPS systems at each data center, and can dispatch techs when on-site maintenance is needed.
1sockchuck writes: Connected cars generate a lot of data. That's translating into big business for data center providers, as evidenced by a major data center expansion by Uber, which needs more storage and compute power to support its global data platform. Uber drivers’ mobile phones send location updates every 4 seconds, which is why the design goal for Uber’s geospatial index is to handle a million writes per second. It's a reminder that as our cars become mini data centers, the data isn't staying onboard, but will also be offloaded to the data centers of automakers and software companies.
1sockchuck writes: Over the past decade, there have been repeated predictions of the imminent arrival of higher rack power densities. Yet extreme densities have remained focused in high performance computing (HPC).Now data center providers are beginning to adapt their designs for higher densities. One of these companies is Colovore, which is among a cliuster of companies adopting chilled-water cooling doors for their cabinets (LinkedIn is another). They say the move to higher densities is driven in part by a generational change in IT teams, as younger engineers are less worried about high-density strategies using water in the data center. "A lot of them grew up with PC gaming and water cooling right in their living room,” said a Colovore executive.
1sockchuck writes: Does it make sense for state to offer tax incentives to lure huge data center projects? After an extended debate, legislators in Michigan have approved tax breaks for a $5 billion data center in Grand Rapids. The project from Switch, which previously built the SuperNAP in Las Vegas, brought the debate into stark relief due to the size of the project — an estimated 2 million square feet of data center space. States competing for projects often find themselves in a bind, since the highly-automated facilities create a limited number of permanent jobs, but many states already offer juicy incentives. Michigan ultimately sought a middle path, tying the tax breaks to job creation goals. If the data center jobs don't materialize, the breaks disappear.
1sockchuck writes: Cloud server farms have migrated to rural areas in Iowa and Oregon, but there's still plenty of infrastructure action in the big city. Urban carrier hotels are once again attracting investment and business, nearly 20 years after they marked the frontier of the transition from telcos to data centers. Companies like Netrality and Infomart are investing heavily in developing meet-me rooms in these facilities, underscoring the enduring power of the cross connect – the physical connection between networks that knits the Internet together.
1sockchuck writes: Data center providers are offering space with less power infrastructure than traditional mission-critical facilities, citing demand from customers looking to forego extra UPS and generators in return for more affordable pricing. The demand for "variable resiliency" space reflects a growing emphasis on controlling data center costs, along with a focus on application-level requirements like HPC and bitcoin mining. Data center experts differed on whether this trend toward flexible design was a niche, or a long-term trend. “In the next 12 months,data center operators will be challenged to deliver power to support both an HPC environment as well as traditional storage all under one roof," said Tate Cantrell, CTO at Iceland's Verne Global. "HPC will continue the trend to low resiliency options.” But some requirements don't change. "Even when they say they’re OK with lower reliability, they still want uptime," noted one executive.
1sockchuck writes: This week's Slashdot poll shows a strong preference for renewable energy to power data centers, with solar energy leading the pack. But until recently, only a few colocation providers have actually sourced renewable energy to support their facilities. A sign of progress is the commitment by Equinix, the world's largest colo provider, to shift to 100 percent renewable energy for the more than 100 data centers it operates across the world. The company is seeking to accomplish this through power purchase agreements and buying green power from utilities that offer it. Equinix is also testing both on-site solar arrays and fuel cells from Bloom Energy, which is slowly gaining traction in data centers. Although hyperscale cloud companies are sourcing more green energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council has targeted the multi-tenant data center sector as a source for huge potential gains in renewables.
1sockchuck writes: The largest cloud builders now pump at least $1 billion into each of their new data center campuses, and may invest as much as $5 billion in future projects. This week Data Center Frontier profiles the top 10 cloud campuses, which feature massive investments in Virginia by Microsoft ($1.7 billion), Digital Realty ($1.3 billion) and DuPont Fabros ($1.2 billion). The NSA, Google and Apple have all spent in excess of $1 billion on their largest campuses. The top-ranked cloud campus is the Switch SUPERNAP project in Las Vegas, which has grown to 1.4 million square feet over three data centers. Switch has announced plans to spend $5 billion to convert an odd pyramid-shaped office building in Michigan into a data center, and has broken ground on a massive Reno project that kicks off with a single building with 1 million square feet of space.
1sockchuck writes: Intel has begun using extra-tall racks that pack more servers into the same space. The 60U racks are part of a new Intel design that combines extreme density and energy efficiency, with a Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) of 1.06. The new prototype is running in a former semiconductor fabrication plant in Santa Clara, Calif. where workers clad in “bunny suits” once created Atom chips. The fab, known as D2, was shuttered in 2009, but is being transformed into a leading edge data center. The nine-foot racks can support rack densities of up to 43kW, Fortunately, admins won't need ladders to maintain switches, which have been moved to the bottom of the rack.
1sockchuck writes: Data center developers are buying up land in northern Virginia, preparing for explosive growth of cloud computing infrastructure. Digital Realty just bought land in Ashburn, Virginia to support 2 million square feet of data center space, while DuPont Fabros, RagingWire and Sabey have also locked up land parcels for future growth. Why is Ashburn so hot? Cloud builders crave proximity to an Internet exchange operated by Equinix, which itself just bought land for another 1 million square feet of colocation space. That's one of the reasons why Amazon Web Services operates more than 20 data centers in northern Virginia. "Data center demand is stronger today than it’s ever been," said Bill Stein, the CEO of Digital Realty.
1sockchuck writes: Data center developers are buying up land in northern Virginia, preparing for explosive growth of cloud computing infrastructure. Digital Realty just bought land in Ashburn, Virginia to support 2 million square feet of data center space, while DuPont Fabros, RagingWire and Sabey have also locked up land parcels for future growth. Why is Ashburn so hot? Cloud builders crave proximity to an Internet exchange operated by Equinix, which itself just bought land for another 1 million square feet of colocation space. That's one of the reasons why Amazon Web Services operates more than 20 data centers in northern Virginia. "Data center demand is stronger today than it’s ever been," said Bill Stein, the CEO of Digital Realty
1sockchuck writes: After years of focus on hyperscale server farms, there's new demand for data centers to serve edge content and the service provider market in smaller cities. How do you match the size of the data center to the demand profile of smaller markets? Pre-fabricated data center designs are playing a key role, deploying server space in smaller, digestible chunks. This avoids the overbuilding that led to the data center glut during the dot-com boom, but also allows customers to expand gradually. But the "data center in a box" has evolved since the Sun Blackbox, and now includes a focus on factory-built power rooms and lean construction of data halls, as well as the evolving designs for containerized solutions.
1sockchuck writes: By immersing IT equipment in liquid coolant, a new data center is reaching extreme power densities of 250 kW per enclosure. At 40 megawatts, the data center is also taking immersion cooling to an entirely new scale, building on a much smaller proof-of-concept from a Hong Kong skyscraper. The facility is being built by Bitcoin specialist BitFury and reflects how the harsh economics of industrial mining have prompted cryptocurrency firms to focus on data center design to cut costs and boost power. But this type of radical energy efficiency may soon be key to America's effort to build an exascale computer and the increasingly extreme data-crunching requirements for cloud and analytics.