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Hyperscale data centers are massive business-critical facilities designed to efficiently support robust, scalable applications and are often associated with big data-producing companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft.

But what makes a hyperscale data center different from a regular data center?

A data center, in short, is a dedicated space or building that houses an organization's IT equipment and servers. The company can draw on its data center resources to operate its business or serve those resources up to the public as a service.

Enterprise data centers and hyperscale data centers can be compared using their scale and performance.

Hyperscale data centers are significantly larger than enterprise data centers, and because of the advantages of economies of scale and custom engineering, they significantly outperform them, too. Not by any means an official definition, a hyperscale data center should exceed 5,000 servers and 10,000 square feet.

What further distinguishes hyperscale data centers is the volume of data, compute, and storage services they process. In a survey, 93% of hyperscale companies expect to have 40 GigaBytes per second (Gbps) or faster network connections. In the same survey, 51% of respondents report that the bandwidth needed to manage vast volumes of data is an increasing challenge.

Comparing their power usage effectiveness (PUE) metrics (although, comparing PUEs between data centers is not always apples to apples,), most enterprise data centers commonly report and average data center PUE between 1.67-1.8. However, Google hyperscale data centers report a PUE of 1.1, where a PUE of 1.0 means perfect efficiency. From a performance standpoint, the comparison is very much like a full-size sedan versus a zero-emissions vehicle.

Hyperscale is also a term that embodies a computing system's capability to scale, at orders of magnitude, to meet tremendous demand. So hyperscale data centers are exceptionally agile, with the ability to scale up, down, and out to meet any load they service. This can mean adding more compute power, as well as adding more machines, or the ability to scale out to the edge of a network.

Essentially, hyperscale data centers compete "not just [on] scale [alone] but also [on] a certain approach to building and managing infrastructure, emphasizing stripped-down hardware, maximum disaggregation (components can be mixed and matched), modularity, automation, and other principles."

Learn more: Modular Data Centers

5 Largest Hyperscale Data Centers

There are more than 600 hyperscale data centers as of 2021. To truly understand the size of a hyperscale data center, we compare the conventional definition, 5,000 servers in 10,000 square feet., to the five largest hyperscale data centers and the region they serve.

The Inner Mongolian Information Hub

  • Total Area: 10.7 million square feet
  • Owned by China Telecom, the Inner Mongolian Information Hub is the largest of six data centers in Hohhot.

Hohhot Data Center

  • Total Area: 7.7 million square feet
  • China Mobile's Hohhot Data Center is the second-largest, also located in the Information Hub at Hohhot.

The Citadel Campus

  • Total Area: 7.2 million square feet
  • Located in northern Nevada, The Citadel Campus is the largest data center in the world, owned by the global technology company Switch. It's powered by 100% renewable energy up to 650 megawatts (MW). The campus guarantees a latency of 4.5 milliseconds (ms) to Silicon Valley, 9 ms to Silicon Beach, and 7 ms to Las Vegas.

Range International Information Hub, Langfang, China

  • Total Area: 6.6 million square feet
  • Located in Langfang, China, between Beijing and Tianjin, the Range International Information Hub is a fourth-generation super data center designed in collaboration with IBM.

Switch SuperNAP, Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Total Area: 3.3 million square feet
  • The SuperNAP is also owned by Switch and is located in Las Vegas. The SuperNAP runs on 100% green energy up to 531 MW.


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