An inside tour of AMD's Atlanta super-datacenter (pictures)

An inside tour of AMD's Atlanta super-datacenter (pictures)

Summary: Imagine squeezing 18 buildings worth of servers, data racks, and networking gear into just two. That's exactly what AMD is doing. ZDNet was one of the first to tour the company's soon-to-be only U.S. datacenter.


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  • Tape drives used for storage

    Here, you can see a number of spare Dell tape drives that are able to store up to 3 terabytes (compressed) of data. These can be slotted into servers when they require replacement, or fail. And AMD uses technology from rivals and partners alike, including Dell and HP.

    Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive

  • Stacks of replacement drives

    AMD executives weren't kidding — they have hundreds of spare drives in case others' fail. There are dozens of boxes of drives, which according to executives, in this room alone there are up to 2 petabytes. In terms of the overall datacenter tape storage capacity, the Atlanta facility is approaching the 5 petabyte capacity.

    Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive

  • The "build and burn" room

    Build it, overclock it, and burn it into the ground, a crucial litmus test for the various technologies and hardware components that may eventually find their way into the main datacenter. This room is about the size of an average New York City apartment — about 600-700 sq. ft. — and houses more than a dozen machines packed with hardware that run rapid-fire simulations. The room itself is significantly warmer than the other rooms, but in order to maximize its potential, the room does not haver air conditioning.

    Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive

Topics: Storage, Data Centers, Networking

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  • Informative journalism ???

    So what's inside that data center and how is it connected to the outside world and what's are its capabilities?

    You might as well have written:
    "AMD builds concrete box in Atlanta. Hopes to cure world hunger. Plans to shut other sites "

    And you could have written it in "The National Enquirer".
  • Weight in tons vs cooling tons...Not the same thing

    "These massive chillers weigh more than about 20 mid-sized U.S. Army tanks each".
    Not quite. I suspect the chillers have a cooling capacity of 420 tons. They do not weigh 40 tons. I promise the writer the 3 ton AC unit connected to their home does not weigh 3 tons. Building engineers must be laughing their asses off on this one.
  • Stacks of replacement drives?

    Those are not replacement drives. They are stacks of LTO tapes.

    Security is insane? A revolving door and badge access hardly constitutes insane security. Fingerprint readers and retina may qualify but I hardly think badge access that has been around for the last 20 years qualifies.

    Pictures do say a thousand words and the thousands words they say here is that this journalist should not be writing articles on content he knows very little about.
  • Really??

    Groan - that sums it up. This article is a joke. It is like an 8th grader wrote it. Please, please stay out of this topic because you don't know or understand the vast capabilities of the facilities or technologies within Data Centers.

    Stick to writing on things you understand like how Social Media helps keep you in touch with your friends or the technologies that fit in your pocket/backpack.

    How does ZDNet allow this to happen?
  • That was the worst multi-click slideshow EVER...

    ...Seriously, there is a time and a place for this type of presentation, and 40 slides is NOT IT.

    That said, I realize AMD's goal here is to MINIMIZE footprint and operational costs, but holy crap that entire setup is so ridiculously Mickey Mouse as opposed to the data centers I worked around TEN YEARS AGO at Rackspace, which were themselves a model of efficiency for the time. This is more like the server room at the ancient Bank of America call center I worked at than what one would expect from a multi-million dollar technology firm.
  • amber alerts

    I've seen better and worse data centers. However, why do all the servers in slide 22 have an amber alert instead of a happy blue?
    John Lauro
  • Nice Overview

    This article was a nice overview of main features of this new data center and the different goals that drove its design. Of course, minimizing factual errors in an article is important, but those pointed out don't really impact the overall message here. This was not intended to be a detailed analysis of the data center's capabilities or a blue print for how to design one. I'm amazed how some folks go out of their way to make negative comments. There isn't enough information presented here to make judgements regarding the overall quality or efficiency of this data center. Doing so is just driven by some bias or need to feel superior.
  • Malaysia?

    Can you imagine the panic when Islam overruns Malaysa?
    Then there will only be one datacenter.
  • Simpler is better?

    Sometimes reducing duplication is initially better. But it can be worse when problems occur. Having only one data center for half the world can be a mistake if something happens to it. If that happens how will the data center in the other half of the world take over for the failed data center. Perhaps they should have dropped from 18 to 8 or 9 first, then reevaluated. Even if you could reduce your need down to one it might be better to have two others so that each only operated on one-third capacity. That way a failure of one wouldn't be a catastrophe. A wise designer always remembers to allow for Murphy.
  • Great article, Zack..

    ..despite the curmudgeons that can never say anything positive about any article here. I'm sure the company did not disclose their operational applications to their customers for security and marketing reasons so the article was exactly what it was - a facility tour, which was rather impressive.

    Thanks again.
  • Wow!

    The whole thing looks like a massive tribute to the 90s beige box PC. Cool in a weird sort of way.
    Time Agora
  • Wow! That looks like a datacenter!

    Pretty lame article, aside from maybe 1 or 2 unique facts.
  • I wouldn't know one end of a datacenter from the other. But this reminds.

    This reminds me of when I did a frame repair on a dump truck. I had to replace 4 feet of frame rail on each side. I told the owner that as soon as I started on it the experts would be coming out of the woodwork. Sure enough they came in droves and each one gave his opinion. The owner of the truck was a total nervous wreck after they got done with him. They had him convinced that it was bound to fail. My answer to this was tell him to ask those folks how many truck frames they have repaired. Not one of them even knew how to weld. lol. I finished the job and gave him a life time warranty. He used the truck for fifteen years with no problems then he sold it.

    What I'm saying is we are looking at an unfinished product and at the moment these people are operating eighteen of them with enough success that they can afford to upgrade. I would think they know what the requirements are to make this thing work.

    Now as far as the article goes I had no problem knowing what they told him about the cooling system and enjoyed reading it even with the mistakes. Zack is a writer not an engineer so take that into consideration when reading. You guys can figure it out. After all, you're the experts. hehehe.
    Rick Sos