Microsoft 'mega data centers' to support Azure, Bing

New facility opens in Dublin to take advantage of the cool climate there. A Chicago facility, opening later this month, will house containerized servers.

Matthew Broersma Special to CNET News
2 min read

Microsoft on Wednesday launched a new data center in Dublin, describing it as the largest it has built outside the U.S.

The site is what Microsoft calls a "mega data center", a class the company has constructed previously only in the U.S. The company plans to open another mega data center in Chicago on July 20, it said in a blog post Monday.

Microsoft's Dublin data center
Microsoft's Dublin data center Microsoft

Both new sites are intended to support Microsoft's online services, including its Azure hosted services and the recently introduced Bing search engine.

The Dublin facility covers 303,000 square feet, Arne Josefsberg, general manager of infrastructure services at Microsoft's Global Foundation Services, wrote in the blog post. It can provide 5.4 megawatts of power now, expandable to a total of 22.2 megawatts, he added.

Josefsberg said the building was constructed to take advantage of Ireland's cool climate.

"The facility makes extensive use of outside air economization to cool the facility year-round, resulting in greater power efficiency with a resultant reduction in carbon footprint," he wrote.

The Chicago facility covers more than 700,000 square feet, with 30 megawatts of power initially available, expandable up to 60 megawatts, Josefsberg said. Two-thirds of the facility is intended to house containerized servers -- shipping containers full of servers that can be cooled more efficiently than a conventional building.

The units can be made operational within hours, allowing quick expansion of capacity, and their server density can be more than 10 times that of a traditional data center, Josefsberg said.

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, said recently that the growth of online services would lead to more data centers being built outside the U.S., citing the need for data centers "everywhere on Earth."

Matthew Broersma of ZDNet UK reported from London.