Inside an Icelandic datacentre

Inside an Icelandic datacentre

Summary: ZDNet UK visited Iceland to see how a 100-percent renewable energy-powered free-cooled datacentre fared using Colt's modular design in Iceland's remote, chilly climate


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  • Colt datacentre modules

    Iceland has a relatively mild climate, with temperatures rarely deviating beyond a low of -8°C and a high of 16°C, according to data from Wolfram Alpha.

    "Having been an engineer in Alaska, I don't like designing [facilities] when it's -20, -30, -40°," Cantrell said. "I like the temperate climate in Iceland." 

    This makes the country ideal for free-cooled datacentres and so, in an unusual move for Colt, it delivered its module to Verne Global without any direct-expansion chillers. "We also upgraded the [air] filtration system and installed mild winterisation heating in front of the UPS as a precaution," Ruddock said. 

    The ability to use external air all year round and Colt's relatively efficient modular design means the facility should attain a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of around 1.2, Cantrell said.

    Colt's modules (pictured) can be installed in a basic warehouse shell. In the case of volcanic eruptions or sudden spikes in temperature, the modules can seal themselves off to prevent airborne particles damaging the server and to keep temperature stable.

    Image credit: Jack Clark

  • Module systems

    Colt's modules are built to an exoskeletal design where their power distribution (pictured), cooling and fire-suppression systems are placed on the outside of the module. This means they can be maintained without having to have lots of people traipsing in and out of the server rooms.

    Image credit: Jack Clark

  • Computer-generated image of the datacentre complex

    The initial module lives in the KEF101 warehouse complex (pictured) of an old NATO airbase. Verne Global has taken a lease on the entire site, which gives it access to a further 200,000 to 250,000 square feet of space for IT expansion.

    Because the site is an old airbase, it is located in one of the most geologically stable areas of the country, according to Tate Cantrell, Verne Global's chief technology officer. The US conducted a thorough environmental survey before helping to set up the base, he said.

    In 2010, a volcanic eruption in Iceland disrupted air travel across Europe and covered much of the country in a cloud of ash. The NATO base is located in such a way that Arctic breezes and the Gulf Stream combined to push volcanic effects away from the facility, according to Verne Global.

    Image credit: Jack Clark

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Topics: Datacentre Tour, Networking

Jack Clark

About Jack Clark

Currently a reporter for ZDNet UK, I previously worked as a technology researcher and reporter for a London-based news agency.

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