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Photo gallery: The world's most extreme data centers

By Julia Gabel
Wed 29 Nov 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Comtec, a project management, and engineering design company, compiled a list of the world's most extreme data centers. 

From 300 meters below the ground to a chicken coop, here are some of the world's most amazing, and in some cases, unusual, choices to house a data center:

1. The Arctic World Archive: 300 meters below the ground

This data center is built in a converted mineshaft in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

The Arctic World Archive aims to do for data what the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has done for crop samples: provide a remote, impregnable home in the Arctic permafrost, safe from threats like natural disasters and global conflicts.

2. In a 19th Century Church

The Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC) installed its MareNostrum in the 19th Century Torre Girona chapel in Barcelona, Spain.

3. Inside a Chicken Coop

Completed in 2015, Yahoo!’s newest data center is a 155,000 square foot facility in Lockport, New York. According to Comtec, the data center uses 40% less energy and 95% less water than conventional facilities.

The facility can accommodate 50,000 servers and is based on an unusual design: A chicken coop.

4. At the Bottom of the Ocean

Called Project Natick, this data center started as an experiment in 2015 which involved housing data center inside a watertight 17,237 kg cylindrical vessel measuring 10 x 7 feet.

The experiment worked, and the data center is anchored over half a mile off the US Pacific coast and uses as much computing power as 300 desktop PCs.

5. In the Middle of the Dessert

This Utah Data Center is a data storage facility for the United States Intelligence Community and is designed to store data estimated to be on the order of exabytes or larger.

Its purpose is to support the Comprehensive National Cyber security Initiative (CNCI) – however, its precise mission is classified.

6. In an Ice Cube Lab

Negative 40 degrees, this facility is in an environment so cold they have to heat the air used to cool the data center.

The Ice Cube Lab data center has over 1,200 computing cores and threes petabytes of storage and is tethered to the Ice Cube Observatory, a neutrino detector with strings of optical sensor buried a kilometer deep in the Antarctic ice. 

7. Hidden inside a mountain

According to Comtec, Green Mountain is the world’s most environmentally friendly data center - something you could’ve guessed by its name.

The data center, which is in Stravanger, Norway, uses hydro-electric power and water-cooling and is built into an old, recycled Nato hideaway.

Moreover, the data center’s owner, Smedvig, claims the 22, 000 square meter facility has the world’s lowest Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating and a practically non-existent carbon footprint.

All images supplied by Comtec

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