2bm design and build a data centre for ARM in US


2bm has received some great news lately.  One of our most recent and challenging contracts has been nominated for not one, but three separate awards in the Datacenter Dynamics North American Awards 2014.

The project was carried out for ARM, who were looking for an experienced and qualified team to provide them with a customised data centre solution that aligned with their ethos of innovation, efficiency and sustainability (as per EUHPC) in Austin, Texas.

Despite never working with ARM in the US before, 2bm has worked alongside them on a facility in Cambridge, UK.  This project was, therefore, intended to serve as a high level model for Austin.

Project Summary:

  • ARM required a 2.0 MW High Performance Cluster (HPC) data centre
  • 950 kW operational Jan 2014 + 950 kW on-demand March 2014
  • N+1, Tier III, PUE 1.30 or below
  • Conforms to TIA-942, AIA, EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres, NFPA, ASHRAE, & Local Codes

This time the task was to deliver multiple, innovative energy saving features within a single facility. This is unusual in Texas given the low cost of power.

To replicate the previous success, 2bm had to integrate into the US based development team.  Senior Project Manager at 2bm, Gordon Smith, headed up the project from our end, working closely alongside Craig McGahey, VP Development and the team at Digital Realty.

The ARM data centre design and build project team were as follows:

  • Digital Realty (US) | ARM’s (UK) first 3rd party development partner
  • 2bm Limited (UK) | ARM’s design, construction partner, Cambridge UK
  • PAE Engineers (US) | 2bm’s MEP design partner
  • Corgan Associates (US) | Digital’s architectural design partner
  • StructureTone SW (US) | Digital’s design, construction partner

The system was designed to efficiently handle varying IT loads up to 22kW per cabinet, with the flexibility to dynamically control cooling and adjust to low loads per cabinet.

Innovation features of the project included high density, water cooled racks, using high supply water temperature (75°F).  The temperature of each cabinet (81°F) is tightly controlled  and Water to RDHx loops, supplied via a Venturi negative pressure system, provide full leak prevention to data halls.

In addition, the energy consumption was fully optimised with zero water consumption.

Design Highlights:

On-site project managers from Digital, 2bm and StructureTone worked closely together to coordinate system design and installation.  Some of the design highlights included:

  • High level of redundancy via distributive redundant power design at N+1
  • Lights-out facility with all data halls and build rooms illuminated with LED lighting and granular proximity switching
  • 24/7 365 operations managed by Digital Realty and “Remote Hands”
  • Low latency connectivity and excellent local fibre presence
  • High security with bio-metric door entry systems and cabinet secure card access (no keys)
  • x2 separate data halls with 59 cabinets per hall
  • Separate Emulator room with capacity for x3 emulators and a Build and Store room for IT

What challenges did we face?

Working towards an aggressive delivery schedule was one of the challenges of the project.  However, the project also represented a series of ‘first times’ for 2bm and a number of the partnering companies. For example, this was the first time 2bm had worked alongside Digital Realty, and then the first time 2bm and ARM had worked together on a project in the US.

Digital Realty had to adapt their data centre solution offerings to meet ARM’s sustainability objectives.  Digital Realty, therefore, accepted the risk of integrating the new MEP design and equipment in order to meet ARM’s requirements.

2bm is pleased to say team integration was successful and all contractual obligations satisfied.

In the end, ARM needed the knowledge, experience and resources to make it happen quickly and to guarantee its success.

The team, advocated by ARM and managed by the Digital development and project team, achieved all objectives.

What do others think?

  • ‘We had an immediate need for a high efficiency, high density data center in Austin, Texas. But more importantly, we have a long-term need for a partner who can potentially help us with our go forward data center strategy.’

— John Goodenough, Vice President of Design Technology and Automation at ARM Holdings

  • ‘The facility is an exceptional example of an energy efficient data centre with every aspect meeting and in some cases surpassing the requirements of the EU code of conduct for data centres. We believe that the design of the ARM NAHPC data centre fully embraces and surpasses the sustainability credentials required for commercial buildings with the city of Austin.’

CEEDA Recognition

The project has since been nominated for three separate awards at the DCD North American Awards 2014, in the following three categories:

  1. Special Assignment Team of the Year
  2. Innovation in the Medium Data Center
  3. The Green Data Center

The full list of finalists in all judging categories can be foundhere and the winners will be announced early next month.

2bm is proud of what has been accomplished and excited about the potential to do this again globally.