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Natalie Lehrer
Natalie Lehrer
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The Largest Data Centers In The World

The US leads the way in giant data centers, but China is slated to take the crown with its Langfang data center, at least temporarily.

The United States is home to the world’s largest data center and data center campuses, but for how much longer? According to Forbes, China is scheduled to a complete a data center in Langfang by 2016 that will rival the size of the Pentagon.

When completed, the structure will be an incredible 6.3-million square feet. That's more than triple the size of the current largest data center in the US, the 2.2-million square foot Switch SUPERNAP campus.

Sketch of Langfang datacenter
Sketch of Langfang datacenter

That said, the Chinese will only be able to wear the crown for the largest data center for three to five years. Microsoft recently announced a new data center initiative in Iowa that will cost it $1.13 billion, and will also be more than 6 million square feet. It is due to be completed between 2019 and 2021.

While bigger data centers are on the horizon, let's take a closer look at a couple of today's leaders.

The Switch SUPERNAP data center campus is strategically located near Las Vegas, Nev. This location is not prone to severe weather events, and the abundance of energy generated from green resources such as hydroelectricity as well as emerging energy sources like wind and solar made the Las Vegas location a no-brainer.

Switch SUPERNAP
Switch SUPERNAP

The 2.2-million square foot campus is almost twice the size of any other privately owned data center in the US. Switch was founded by Rob Roy and his company continues to be a trendsetter in data center technology. Switch holds over 200 patents in the information and data center technology realm. SUPERNAP 8 recently began operating on Switch’s Nevada campus and the constant construction and additions onto this campus is the reason why Switch continues to be the standard bearer in co-location and cloud innovation.

Another data center of note is the Lakeside Technology Center located in Chicago, Ill. -- the largest single-structured data center in the US. This 1.1-million square foot datacenter is the backbone to many of the most sophisticated telecommunication services in the world. The structure is also used by multiple tenants, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Equinix. Statistics show that the Lakeside Technology Center uses slightly less energy than O’Hare International Airport, making the structure the  second-largest consumer of power in the city of Chicago.

Lakeside Technology Center
Lakeside Technology Center

Wholly owned by Digital Realty Trust,  the facility is located at 350 E. Cermak in the heart of downtown Chicago. The Lakeside Technology Center is one of the most unique data centers in the world. The building was originally constructed in 1912 and the lobby of the building still has that early 20th century look and feel. The building was originally used as a facility to house large, industrial-sized printing presses needed for printing catalogs and phone books in the early 20th century.

In 1999, the facility reopened as a data center and today the facility has more than 90% of its server racks full. The most unique part of the building is that it has retained its original outside architecture. Looking from the street, you probably wouldn’t realize the structure is a data center unless someone had told you about the building’s purpose.  

Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. View Full Bio

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jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/29/2014 | 10:26:32 PM
Re: NSA Utah data center
Do you think we can get OSHA to mandate the provision of Segways for everybody that has to work in these places?

In the Kodak HQ buildings in Rochester, NY they used to use bicycles in some areas because the hallways were so incredibly long. I think we've moved past those antiquated times, and based on the lenght of the main hallway at QTS I really think we deserve some automated transport. I can't even imagine a 2.2million sq ft facility - golf carts for all? ;-)
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/29/2014 | 10:21:17 PM
Re: Facebook's 990,000 sq. ft. data complex in Prineville
QTS in Atlanta is a 970,000 sq ft facility in an old Sears distribution center.

The Chicago 1.1M sq ft facility mentioned above was originally used to print the Yellow Book and Sears catalog.

 

Where Sears goes, it leaves data center structures in its wake, it seems!
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Strategist
5/29/2014 | 6:30:48 PM
Re: Facebook's 990,000 sq. ft. data complex in Prineville
That is most definitely big. The Open Compute Project started with the Prineville data center I think.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/29/2014 | 6:28:33 PM
Re: Facebook's 990,000 sq. ft. data complex in Prineville
I'm hearing a lot of interest about how to make data centers more modular, not just bigger. Grow in increments - and ideally shrink, as well, if business conditions demand. 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/29/2014 | 5:35:07 PM
Facebook's 990,000 sq. ft. data complex in Prineville
Facebook has 660,000 square feet in use outside Prineville, and room for another 330,000 square foot facility, for a 990,000-square foot total in its complex. Not a million, of course, but big.
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Strategist
5/29/2014 | 2:58:01 PM
NSA Utah data center
Another massive data center is the NSA's new 1 million square foot facility in Utah. Here's an interesting report on water consumption by the data center.
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