New data center will add high-performance computing capabilities at Virginia Tech

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The Virginia Tech Biocomplexity Institute is growing again by adding a third data center at the life sciences quadrant on the corner of Washington Street and Duck Pond Drive.

“Our current data centers have reached their space and cooling limitations,” said Kevin Shinpaugh, director of information technology at the institute. “The new data center will allow us to meet the increasing demands of our computationally based research.”

Bolstered by a gift of equipment from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the approval of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, construction of the institute’s $5.9 million new data center is underway.

The new center will add 36 water-chilled racks and two megawatts of power to the institute’s high-performance computing capabilities, allowing researchers to perform more complex calculations than ever before.

As simulations become more complicated and data-rich, computer power must increase exponentially to keep up.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaab1aaaajddhngvmytqwltq3zmqtndy0zs04m2nmlwzkmjq4mwy5ytaymgThe data center’s design and construction have been groundbreaking. Technology firms were challenged to create a center capable of concentrating a high volume of computational power within a relatively small physical footprint.

This “high-density” design requires more efficient cooling, using water-based rear-door heat exchangers.

iThe center is being delivered through a design-build project method that enables a contractor and a designer to team up and work together under a single contract. As a result, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and Wendel combined resources to deliver a fully designed and constructed project.

“This relationship will expedite both design and construction, enabling the entire project to be completed in less than a year, including the vital commissioning phase after construction is complete,” said David Chinn, Virginia Tech capital project manager.

The system will use three-phase 415-volt power for energy efficiency and will include generator and uninterruptible power supplies for critical loads.

“We are extremely excited to work with Whiting-Turner and Wendel on this groundbreaking project. We are looking forward to delivering, even more, solutions to real-world problems with the answers this data center will generate,” said Laurie Coble, chief operating officer of the Biocomplexity Institute.

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