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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.
Just under one third of the energy needed to run the site will be supplied by a photovoltaic power station sporting 1,610 solar panels.
Inside the first building to open on the site – a 55 x 55 metre cube – are six 520 square-metre data halls. Each hall can house about 260 racks of servers, with a density of about 2.2kW per square metre. Altogether the six data halls can house more than 50,000 servers.
The centre is a tier III facility, designed to ensure 99.98 percent annual availability.
At the foot of the mountain
Portugal Telecom chose to site the datacentre in Covilha not just because of its low temperatures during winter, but also because of its low seismic activity.
PT estimates that some 1,400 jobs will be created by the u20ac90m site.
The facility will underpin Portugal Telecom’s cloud services and will serve clients who use its software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service offerings.