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Inside the 9 Largest Data Centers in the United States

Posted by QuoteColo on June 28, 2016 - Updated on July 01, 2016

data centersData centers have proliferated today. Up to 35% of companies no longer maintain their own in-house data center, choosing to collocate their servers elsewhere. There are good reasons for this trend as well. It costs businesses less in the long run to outsource their server location, but they’re also able to avail themselves of professional maintenance, 24/7 support, up to 100% uptime and other benefits. Of course, data centers do more than just colocation pricing– they provide services like data warehousing and storage, as well as other solutions for businesses, organizations and government agencies.

Data centers can be almost any size, but there’s a definite trend toward “bigger is better”, and some of the world’s largest are located right here in the US. What centers top the list? Let’s take a look at nine of the largest data centers in the United States.

Microsoft

We’ll start our list at the bottom and work toward the top. Coming in at #9 is Microsoft’s Quincy, WA data center. It boasts 470,000 square feet of space, as well as the heart of Microsoft Azure. However, it won’t stay at this spot on the list for long. Microsoft plans to expand the facility by almost 200 acres in a deal with the Quincy Port Authority. It took $550 million to build the plant, and it uses power from nearby dams located on the Columbia River.

Apple

At #8 we find Apple’s Maiden, North Carolina data center. It measures 500,000 square feet and is the company’s crowning jewel (when it comes to data centers, at least). It holds up to 120,000 servers and cost a cool $1 billion. Apple is looking to expand this facility by an additional 75 acres, which might give it just enough to keep Microsoft from edging them out of their position. The center is powered by both the grid and the largest solar array Apple has ever developed.

I/O

The I/O data center located in Phoenix, Arizona comes in at #7. It covers 538,000 square feet, which is an impressive feat in its own right. However, it also features a massive solar array on the roof, enough to power the entire facility. It generates up to 4.5 megawatts of energy. The data center cost $70 million to build.

Microsoft

MS has a second entry on this list. The company’s Chicago area data center manages to come in at #6, with 700,000 square feet of space. This is actually one of the largest data centers in the world, not just the US. On the ground floor, the company is actually using metal shipping containers to hold their servers (for the modular design aspect and easy growth), and the second floor acts as the raised floor so common in in-house data centers. The facility cost Microsoft $500 million and with 198 megawatts of power consumed, it’s one of the most energy intensive operations in the country.

Terremark Worldwide

At #5, we find the Terremark Worldwide data center located in Miami, Florida. Coming in at 750,000 square feet, this data center rises six stories over the city and has been operating since 2001, making it one of the older centers in the country. With that being said, it features serious engineering in order to withstand hurricane winds and flooding, and it plays a huge role in connecting North and South America with over 160 different networks. It required a $260 million investment to create this behemoth, and if its fiber optic connections were to fail, it offers two 16-meter and one 14-meter satellite dishes on the roof.

I/O

Microsoft is not the only company to have two entries on this list. The I/O facility in Edison, New Jersey comes in at #4 with 830,000 square feet of space. The location was chosen because of the proximity to a power switching station, and the facility features modular construction and design that allowed it to become operational almost immediately after construction. That also means that expansion is far simpler than with non-modular facilities. The center is also connected to two of the largest Internet backbones on the planet.

QTS

QTS has been around for a long time, and the company’s first data center remains one of the largest in the country. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, it measures 970,000 square feet, although the data center itself (the portion dedicated to servers) measures 530,000 square feet. In fact, the facility is so large that it has its very own dedicated power substation located right on the property. It’s also the home of Twitter’s servers, and relies on 19 diesel generators for backup power.

The NSA

You knew the government had to be in here somewhere, and they actually come in at #2. The NSA operates a data center in Bluffdale, Utah. It cost $1.2 billion to construct the data center, which measures 1,100,000 square feet. If you’re a follower of the NSA surveillance scandal, this is the heart of the project. It uses 60 diesel generators for power backup, and includes more than 20 buildings with its own power substation and water treatment facility.

Digital Realty

Located in Lakeside, Chicago, the Digital Realty data center is the largest in the country, although it only barely edges out the NSA’s facility with just over 1.1 million square feet. The data center actually began construction in 1917 (not as a data center), and now covers an entire city block in its own right. It cost a full $1 billion, and consumes over 100 megawatts of power through three power feeds.

There you have them – nine of the largest data centers in the US. There are plenty of others that only barely missed making it on to the list. In addition, these aren’t the largest such centers in the world. The Digital Realty center actually comes in at #9 in the world.

Categories: Data Center

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