Data Centers

Photos: The datacentre that sits behind a moat

The cube

Sat outside the city of Covilha, at the foot of Portugal's highest mountain range, is what will be one of Europe's largest datacentres.

Surrounded by a moat, the 75,500 square metre site will eventually house four buildings offering 12,000 square metres of datacentre space.

From a distance the first facility to open on the site - a three-storey cube - appears to be floating on the water.

The moat not only captures the desire of the site's owner's, Portugal Telecom (PT), to create a distinctive design, but also reflects its environmental ambitions. The water creates a microclimate that cools the environment, as well as collecting rain for use in chillers.

The region is the one of the coldest in Portugal and the climate allows the centre to use fresh air cooling for 99 percent of the time according to PT, which expects it will need to run chillers for no more than six days of the year.

The datacentre runs at above average efficiency, with a 1.25 power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating. PUE reflects how much of the electricity used by a facility ends up powering the servers, rather than driving associated infrastructure handling cooling and power distribution. Some of the best PUEs worldwide are achieved by the likes of Facebook and Google, with Facebook reporting a PUE of around 1.05 at its Prineville datacentre.

Image: Portugal Telecom

By Nick Heath

Nick Heath is a computer science student and was formerly a journalist at TechRepublic and ZDNet.