Google Releases Never-Before-Seen Images of Its Data Centers

“A rare look behind the server aisle. Here hundreds of fans funnel hot air from the server racks into a cooling unit to be recirculated. The green lights are the server status LEDs reflecting from the front of Google’s servers.” Photo © Google/ Connie Zhou

If you’ve never heard of a Data Center before, there’s a reason. Despite the fact that data centers are “Giant, whirring, power-guzzling behemoths of data storage – made of cables, servers, routers, tubes, coolers, and wires,” they’re often hidden far away, where their energy-guzzling is more efficient (and way less less obvious).

Indeed, largely because of their gargantuan energy requirements and high-tech secrets, Data Centers have been shrouded in mystery since their beginnings. This is particularly true in Google’s case. When Andrew Blum, author of Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, visited Google’s Data Center in The Dalles, Oregon, he said it was like “ a prison,” and couldn’t even get past the cafeteria. Nary a peek has been seen of a Google Data Center.

Until now, that is. Google just launched a new website, Where the Internet Lives, which features never-before-seen images of eight of Google’s 9 data centers, the places the “physical internet” calls home.

Check out the images of these never-before-seen Data Centers, after the break…

Google didn’t share with us why they’re choosing to go transparent now (we’re guessing Facebook’s decision to openly tout their Data Centers’ design & energy-efficiency might have something to do with it), but they did alert us to some of their centers’ more ecologically note-worthy features.

Network Room at Google's Data Center in Council Bluffs: “Inside Google’s campus network room, routers and switches allow data centers to talk to each other. The fiber optic networks connecting their sites can run at speeds that are more than 200,000 times faster than a typical home Internet connection. The fiber cables run along the yellow cable trays near the ceiling.” Photo © Google/ Connie Zhou

According to Google, their facilities, which must process 3 billion search queries a day and 72 hours of YouTube videos every minute, are “among the most energy efficient in the world,” “using half the energy of a typical data center.”

Google’s Data Center in Hamina, Finland, for example, with an Alvar Aalto-designed machine hall, uses a cutting-edge cooling system, utilizing sea water from the Bay of Finland.

Scroll on for images of Hamina and other Google Data Centers – and see them all at Google’s new site: Where the Internet Lives.

The Dalles, Oregon

Google's Data Center in Hamina, Finland: “A beautiful landscape forms during winter in Finland, as the gulf ices over and creates a picturesque view.” Photo © Google/Connie Zhou
Servers at Google's Data Center in Hamina, Finland; “Blue lights like these mean everything is functioning properly on the server floor.” Photo © Google/ Connie Zhou
Google's Data Center in Hamina, Finland. "“Hamina is one of three data centers Google maintains in Europe. Previously it was the home of the Stora Enso paper mill.” Photo © Google/Connie Zhou
“Another view of Google’s Hamina location, taken while standing on the frozen Gulf of Finland.” Photo © Google/ Connie Zhou

Saint Ghislain, Belgium

Cooling Towers at Google's Data Center in The Dalles, Oregon: “Plumes of steam rise above Google’s cooling towers. When you can see the water vapor – meaning humidity and temperatures are low – the cooling towers are at their most efficient.” Photo © Google/Connie Zhou

Lenoir, North Carolina

“A sunset over Saint Ghislain, Belgium illuminates Google’s water storage tanks and cooling towers.” Photo © Google/Connie Zhou

Douglas County, Georgia

“A cool spring night falls on Google’s Lenoir, North Carolina data center. From this beautiful location, they’re able to provide their services – in the middle of the night – to the entire world.” Photo © Google/Connie Zhou

“Google keep pipes like these ready with highly-pressurized water in case of a fire. This water, in particular, is cleaned and filtered so if they use it, they don't contaminate the facility.” Photo © Google/ Connie Zhou
“Thousands of feet of pipe line the inside of Google’s data centers. They paint them bright colors not only because it's fun, but also to designate which one is which. The bright pink pipe in this photo transfers water from the row of chillers (the green units on the left) to a outside cooling tower” Photo © Google/Connie Zhou
About this author
Cite: Vanessa Quirk. "Google Releases Never-Before-Seen Images of Its Data Centers" 17 Oct 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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