Intel will build $700 million data center ‘mega lab’ in Hillsboro

Intel will build $700 million data center ‘mega lab’ in Hillsboro

NEW!1,260sharesBy Mike Rogoway | The Oregonian/OregonLive

Intel said Thursday it will build a $700 million research center at its Jones Farm campus in Hillsboro where the company will study new technologies for cooling data centers.

The new “mega lab” will investigate ways to make data centers operate more efficiently, primarily by reducing their heating, cooling and water needs. The 200,000-square-foot facility, slated to open late next year, will also provide space for Intel to test new data center technologies.

Also Thursday, Intel published a new design for “immersion liquid cooling” in data centers. The far-out technology submerges computers into a special liquid that doesn’t conduct electricity but absorbs heat generated by the machines.

Researchers say data centers use about 4% of the world’s energy, a total that could grow to 10% as the industry expands. More than a third of that energy is used just to cool the high-performing computers with conventional air chillers.

Intel will build 0 million data center ‘mega lab’ in Hillsboro

Liquid cooling would absorb 1,500 times more heat than air, researchers claim, and some of the heat absorbed in the liquid could be used to warm homes or offices. The heat absorption and reuse could potentially reduce data centers’ carbon footprint by nearly half, according to Intel, reducing their contribution to climate change.

Intel processors dominate the data center industry, but rivals Nvidia, AMD and others are introducing their own technology and rapidly taking market share. A more energy-efficient data center could give Intel an advantage over its competitors because electricity consumption is one of the major costs of operating server farms.

“The future of the data center and data center design is based on innovative and sustainable technologies and practices,” said Sandra Rivera, the Intel vice president in charge of its data center group.

Intel is Oregon’s largest corporate employer, with 22,000 people assigned to its Washington County campuses.

“This latest $700 million investment positions our community – the City of Hillsboro and the State of Oregon – well into the future as the central location for Intel’s Research and Development,” Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway said in a statement Thursday. “It also demonstrates how these facilities and the semiconductor industry in Oregon are leading and directly contributing to local and global technology solutions focusing on climate resiliency.”

Construction of the new data center lab will be starting just as Intel wraps up a $3 billion expansion to its nearby D1X research factory in Hillsboro. Intel is hiring hundreds of technicians and engineers to staff that facility but said Thursday that most of the people working at the new lab already work at Jones Farm.

Intel said it expects 200 construction workers will help build the facility on vacant land at Jones Farm.

-- Mike Rogoway | | Twitter: @rogoway | 503-294-7699

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