Microsoft’s high-tech modular “tractor shed”


Microsoft has completed the construction of the primary stage of the Quincy data center in Washington, which is characterized by the infrastructure of plug and play for modular deployment, and the newly deployed cloud computing provides excellent flexibility.

Quincy data center adopts a lightweight shape design, which is jokingly called “tractor shed” by Microsoft. Each highly customizable space is filled with servers, storage devices, power supply and refrigeration infrastructure. These modules can be redeployed or mixed matched as needed. Microsoft can configure them according to different technical and reliability requirements.

Significant cost reduction

“The new factory is the culmination of the design work of Microsoft global basic services over the years.” “This will make it one of the most efficient and sustainable data centers, while significantly reducing costs and energy utilization compared with the industry,” Microsoft officials said

“Compared with the traditional data center, the energy-saving effect of this data center exceeds 45% – 55%.” Kevin Timmons, general manager of Microsoft data center services, said.

This is the second data center built by Microsoft in Quincy, and another 470000 square foot data center was completed as early as 2007. This new project has implemented the improvement of energy efficiency. As a result, people are amazed that its pue (power use efficiency) value is less than 1.2. The project also includes a number of new sustainable development functions.

In the past few years, Microsoft has been discussing modular data center. During this period, it has been refined into a design concept that can put facilities into containers.

In fact, the project is more similar to the modern version of “tractor shed”, Kevin Timmons said: “I spent most of my childhood in rural Illinois.” The practical appearance of the data center masks many internal innovations. The structure is almost transparent in the outdoor environment. We put the server and storage directly in the cold air. Of course, there will be corresponding protective measures to deal with bad weather.

Reinforcement instead of cement

Getting rid of the dense concrete structure is a new attempt of Quincy data center, including Microsoft Chicago data center. The container style debut design is constantly trying to innovate. The project only uses the aluminum alloy frame, and its two sides are lined with shutters, which can allow fresh cold air to enter the cooling server directly.

In addition, the interior of the building is covered with picture archiving and communication systems, which are designed for the operating environment of the data center. Each system can contain 400-2000 servers. The application of four cooling methods is determined according to different applications to maintain the air inlet temperature of the server in the range of 50-95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fresh cold air enters the chassis directly from the side through the customized louvers, just like the huge air processor in the server rack.

A refrigeration system is also installed in each it module, and there is an air treatment room dedicated to mixing cold air and waste heat discharged from the server to adjust the temperature in the module. Then, the air flow in and out of the server is managed through the overhead air treatment unit, and the outlet for eliminating waste heat is at the peak of the roof of the building.

Timmons said: “Microsoft’s new design allows rapid deployment and greatly reduces the construction cycle. The capacity of each module of the new design is between 2-2.5 MW. We can deploy in a very limited space, which gives the enterprise a lot of flexibility.”

Microsoft also expanded the concept of pre installed components of the power distribution infrastructure, which provides medium voltage in the building, but UPS power supply equipment and power converter equipment are installed in the container. Microsoft uses a 240V AC power server instead of the traditional 208v, which can also save additional power consumption.

Now it’s only 8 megawatts

In the initial deployment of Quincy data center, only four key units with a capacity of about 8 MW were used. The effective capacity of phase II project can reach 27 MW, and the maximum capacity can be expanded to 40 MW.

“Microsoft has been using a” full-featured “approach to evaluate the operating costs of Quincy’s new data center.” According to David Gauthier, Infrastructure Architect of Microsoft Data Center. This includes suppliers’ standardized power supplies in line with ecosystem development, as well as cooling and mechanical components of various designs. In recent years, we have established a mature supply chain. Microsoft has three or four suppliers in every field of data center.

Radical, but also reliable

The new design does not need to weigh reliability, and the module can support the expansion of TIV level data center. Timmons said that this should be a radical new design for us, but it doesn’t mean that we lose any reliability. He said that we can create any design with reliability, which is the so-called “I create, I like”.

Microsoft has been strengthening the construction of the data center in recent months. The plan to establish a mobile data center in West Des Moines, Iowa, was confirmed in June, and the plan to establish an important data center in boyton, Virginia, was announced in August. Timmons revealed that these data centers will also adopt modular design, but will be different from Quincy.

We are constantly developing, but the modularity will not change, and the design concept will be continuously optimized according to different locations.

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