Apr 14, 2021

Sweet Projects and Ark Data Centres: cutting-edge buildings

Bizclik Editor
3 min
Sweet Projects and Ark Data Centres: cutting-edge buildings
Sweet Projects’ Robert Smart discusses the data centre construction specialist’s philosophy and its close partnership with Ark Data Centres...

Sweet Projects are turnkey Design and Build contractor operating in the UK & Europe and provide specialised services to the Advanced Technology, Data and Commercial sectors, as Robert Smart, Executive Director at the company, explains: 

“Sweet Projects modus operandi is simple – provide excellent service and deliver consistent with the expectations of our key clients across the Defence, Data and Aerospace industries. With considerable focus on sustaining long-term relationships, we are committed to fostering a positive working culture with supply chain partners to always achieve the highest quality outcome for our clients. Sweet Projects values customer care, partnership, integrity, and being future-ready.”

Upholding those values requires being laser-focused on the needs of clients as well as workers. “Our management team consists of high-calibre people with experience across the construction industry,” says Smart. “We are passionate about ensuring safe working environments and protecting the personal health and well-being of our employees and supply chain. Health and safety is always at the forefront of our operations – we have a shared belief in zero incidents and accidents on-site and that every person who works for us should go home safely every day.”

The company is a committed and long-term partner of UK data centre firm Ark Data Centres. “We are committed to working with and for Ark and to this end, with each other, to deliver for the long-term, providing a strong legacy for Ark’s customers and stakeholders. Testament to our exceptional relationship, founded on delivery and innovation, we've worked together for over 14 years, growing and supporting Ark’s development to become one of the UK’s foremost data centre providers.” It’s a partnership that is built on sturdy foundations of collaboration, as Smart explains. “We are committed to working in partnership to deliver the exacting standards and expectations of Ark and their clients. At a time where uncertainty is a given, we've established a partnership which is both collaborative, hardworking, and committed to delivering high quality, on time and importantly also meeting our shared financial commitments.”

Going forwards, Smart is clear that the company is poised to evolve with the latest technologies as they emerge. “Complex projects call for complex solutions and the key area of growth in the last few years has been around the use of Information Technology. At Sweet Projects, we have a clearly defined and continually evolving Digital Strategy which allows us to invest and embrace cutting-edge advances in construction technology to continue to improve our offering - from Building Information Modelling, which allows us to coordinate from design to construction, to Geo-enabled Technologies and Biometrics which set us apart in the physical delivery of projects.” It’s thanks to this approach that Sweet Projects is confident that the partnership with Ark will continue going from strength to strength. “Through these, we can meet the ever-growing demand for security of process and certainty of outcome that our partnership with Ark is based upon. Sharing knowledge through digitised platforms, we take our collaboration to the next level - which ultimately drives future success.”

Share article

May 14, 2021

3 ways crypto mining is impacting the data centre industry

Cryptocurrencies
hpc
Sustainability
Bitcoin
4 min
Spiking prices of cryptocurrencies like Dogecoin and Bitcoin are driving a new subset of the data centre industry that’s as risky as it is lucrative

Around the world - particularly in Russia, Eastern Europe and China - the global rise of crypto currency values has been driving an en masse industrialisation of the mining process. The trend has been bubbling away for several years, as the home mining rig has largely found itself edged out by hyperscale server farms comprising some of the largest data centres anywhere in the industry - all designed to mine crypto. 

The demands placed on a facility built and run as a mining operation are somewhat different to those placed on a hyperscale cloud facility or enterprise data centre. Reliability isn’t so much of an issue; if a mine goes down for a few hours, money is lost, but your data centre won’t take half the websites in Western Europe down along with it. 

On the flipside, density and cooling are much, much more important. To make a crypto mining operation profitable, you need to be harvesting more crypto currency (be it Ethereum, Dogecoin, or the perennial Bitcoin) than you’re paying for electricity by a significant margin. As a result, some of the most efficient cooling and hyper-dense rack architecture from the past few years - like two-stage liquid cooling - has originated as a crypto mining solution. Now, hyperscale cloud operators in particular are recognising the benefits of these innovations and applying them to other aspects of the data centre industry. 

Getty Images
Getty Images

1. Liquid Cooling 

Crypto data centres have always been as dense as possible, with their racks running at maximum capacity all day, all year round. By contrast, the average enterprise or cloud data centre isn’t necessarily running at peak capacity 24/7; workloads fluctuate with demand. However, as that demand has skyrocketed over the past year in particular, cloud and enterprise operators have looked to crypto’s preference for liquid cooling as a way to run data centres closer to the ragged edge of performance than ever before. 

One example of this is LiquidStack. The Hong Kong startup makes a revolutionary two-phase liquid cooling solution for data centres, which was developed over a number of years inside Bitfury, one of the world’s leading crypto miners. “Bitfury is sharing our knowledge with the global data center community and we are excited that Microsoft and other internet giants can benefit from our years of experience and investment to best practice liquid cooling,” said Joe Capes, CEO of LiquidStack in an interview with Data Centre Magazine. 

Now, LiquidStack is going mainstream, with substantiated rumours that Microsoft is looking to adopt their DataTank solutions across its ever-expanding portfolio of hyperscale cloud regions. 

2. Denser HPC 

One of the issues that liquid cooling solves is how to create ultra-dense server racks that can function at high temperatures. Crypto miners have been grappling with this problem for about a decade now, and the lessons they’ve learned are being happily adopted by the burgeoning data centre HPC market - which is swelling in response to greater AI adoption and increasingly-sizable data sets. 

With the density that mining rigs can achieve, server architects are cramming hundreds of kilowatts into individual racks - although it should be noted that this is still relatively rare. A 2020 survey from the Uptime Institute still found that the average density of data centre racks was growing rapidly, however. 

“We expect density to keep rising. Our research shows that the use of virtualization and software containers pushes IT utilization up, in turn requiring more power and cooling. With Moore’s law slowing down, improvements in IT can require more multi-core processors and, consequently, more power consumption per operation, especially if utilization is low. Even setting aside new workloads, increases in density can be regarded a long-term trend,” said the report. 

In 2020, average rack densities of 20kW and higher became a reality for many data centre operator. 

3. Sustainability Concerns 

Now for the more worrying news. The industrial scale and massive power consumption inherent to the crypto mining business - and the negative attention that miners are now starting to receive from government - could point towards a concerning future for data centre operators in the wider industry. 

Last week, the Chinese government announced that it would open an inquiry into the participation of Beijing’s largest data centre operators - which include the country’s three largest telecom firms - in crypto mining. At a time when the PRC government is attempting a significant reversal of its approach towards sustainability, the significant power draw of crypto mining activities may be one more hurdle than China cares to deal with. 

The Indian government is mulling a blanket criminalisation of all crypto mining in the country and, in the US, the State of New York is also looking into tightening regulatory restrictions on the industry. 

While crypto mining data centres are not the same as cloud or enterprise facilities, operators should be careful lest the ire of lawmakers be the latest trend to make its way from the crypto sector into the mainstream. 

 

Share article