In Pictures: Mondo Data Centers

Think you have to manage a lot of IT gear? These massive facilities -- each at least 100,000 square feet and most much larger than that -- house thousands of servers and process millions of documents, images and videos every day.

eBay - Delta, Utah

At 245,000 square feet, this new data center houses most of eBay’s computing infrastructure, including the marketplace, PayPal and related services. Some 50,000 square feet of unused space are set aside for future needs. This is the first data center that eBay has owned outright. There’s a 400,000-gallon cistern used for cooling the data center; all electrical equipment runs at 400 volts, which removes one level of transformers to the building.

The facility is LEED Gold certified and is 50% cheaper to operate and 30% more efficient than previous eBay facilities, partly due to the water cooling which collects rainwater and can keep the building cool for 7,000 hours without drawing any electrical current.

Microsoft - Quincy, Wash.

Around the size of 10 football fields, this Microsoft data center is actually two buildings. The first is 500,000 square feet and the second -- below and to the right of the main building -- is built from modular units and weighs in at another 93,023 square feet. Microsoft would not disclose the total number of servers in the main data center, but the second facility houses between 400 and 2,000 servers on a regular basis; the number changes depending on processing needs.

Both facilities cost about $520 million, and they use about 40 megawatts of power. Together they have a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) of between 1.2 and 1.5. The main building draws hydroelectric power from the nearby Columbia River.

Facebook - Pineville, Ore.

Reportedly running at only half capacity, this massive data center covering 300,000 square feet is at the heart of Facebook’s processing needs. The mechanical cooling system uses 100% rainwater. Servers are tuned to run hotter and use 38% less energy than the servers used in Facebook’s previous data centers.

A solar power station generates 204,000 kilowatts per year -- enough to run the offices located near the data center. Energy loss conversion rates -- how much energy is lost when converting energy from the grid to run the actual data center equipment -- usually ranges between 21% and 27% for most data centers, but Pineville conversions run at 7.5%.

Switch Western United States - Las Vegas

Easily one of the largest data centers in the world at 2.2 million square feet, this Las Vegas facility has over 31,000 server cabinets -- plus an additional 500,000 square feet of office space.

The power-generation capability alone is astronomically high: 500 Megavolt ampere (MVA) capacity for power generation, 567MVA capacity for the on-site generators, and 294MVA of uninterruptible power supplies. The site uses equipment weighing 202,000 tons for cooling, with 22,000,000 cubic feet per minute of airflow.

Switch Western U.S. - view 2

This diagram showing the layout inside the Switch facility in Las Vegas looks remarkably similar to a much smaller object: A computer chip inside of a server. The entire Switch campus is home to multiple co-location data center providers.

NGD Europe - Near Cardiff South Wales, U.K.

With a capacity for 19,000 servers in one space over three floors, NGD Europe is one of the largest data centers in the world and opened in 2010. A Tier 3 facility that serves as a co-location provider, the data center provides ISO 27001 security certification plus ISO 14001 and BREEAM environmental certification, direct fiber connections to all major carriers in Europe and transatlantic links, and claims a PUE as low as 1.2. The facility covers some 750,000 square feet.

Terremark NAP of the Americas - Miami

At 750,000 square feet, this expansive facility was designed to link Latin America to the rest of the world. There are 160 global clients who use the data center. Miami is a one of the most connected cities in the U.S., with a convergence of optical, Ethernet backbone and voice communications. Yet, as you might expect, it is also a prime location for hurricanes and floods. Terremark built the Tier 4 facility to withstand a 100-year flood. There are 19 million pounds of concrete ballast designed to survive a CAT5 hurricane.

DFT's CH1 data center - Elk Grove Village, Ill.

Data center developer DFT’s largest data center, located near the Chicago O’Hare airport, spreads out over one story and 485,000 square feet, and uses up to 36.4 megawatts of power. Back-up systems include two 500,000 gallon tanks that can provide up to 22 minutes of full-load operation for cooling and four 50,000 gallon storage tanks for diesel. There are 16 centrifugal chillers for cooling, with 1,150-ton capacity in each.

Eaton Corp. - Louisville and Simpsonville, Kentucky

In 2007, Eaton Corporation -- known in IT circles for making power management products -- started planning for two new data centers in Kentucky. Already finished but not yet online, the two buildings are about 20 miles apart -- one in Louisville and the second in Simpsonville. If there’s a power failure, two 3300-horsepower generators can provide about 2 megawatts of power for ten days to both data centers. Eaton is transferring data from its Cleveland data centers to the new facilities; they will go online this summer. Together the two amount to around 102,000 square feet.

About the author

John Brandon is a former IT manager at a Fortune 100 company who now writes about technology. He has written more than 2,500 articles in the past 10 years. Follow him on Twitter: @jmbrandonbb.