Google pivots to build third data centre in Taiwan
On Thursday, Google confirmed that it plans to construct an . The new facility will be located in Yunlin Province and, upon completion, will be Google’s third major data centre in the country and fourth in Asia, making Taiwan even more critical to the tech giant’s interests in the region.
Google announced its Smart Taiwan initiative back in early 2018, initially hiring 300 new employees in the country and announcing plans to train an additional 5,000 experts in artificial intelligence (AI) within the year, in order to make Taiwan the new . The initiative is Google’s largest external hiring event to date, and took the form of several long-term partnerships with Taiwanese governmental and educational institutions.
The company has been active in Taiwan for almost a decade now, acquiring 15 hectares of land in Changhua County back in 2011 in order to construct one of Asia’s , which came . The project reportedly involved a $780mn investment in its campus, which was one of the largest data centres in the APAC region at the time of construction.
Google announced the construction of its second Taiwanese facility, an $850mn project located in , as recently as December 2019. With the new facility expected to more than double the company’s capacity in Taiwan, the announcement of another hyperscale data centre a few miles away is a little puzzling at face value.
At the end of August, Google and Facebook announced they were scrapping plans for a new undersea fiber optic cable between Hong Kong and the US, in response to a recommendation from the US Department of Defence.
“We continue to work through established channels to obtain cable landing licenses for our undersea cables,” a spokesperson for Alphabet Inc.’s Google at the time. The representative added that the original application had “been withdrawn, and a revised application for the U.S.-Taiwan and U.S.-Philippines portions of the system has been submitted.”
With plans still underway to establish new fiber links between Taiwan and the US, Google’s decision to concentrate its efforts on the country makes more sense, both economically and politically.
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.