Those who frequent the life sciences quadrant on Virginia Tech’s campus at the corner of Washington and Duck Pond may have noticed the new construction trailer and fences near the Biocomplexity Institute. We’re growing again—adding a third data center to our cutting-edge high-performance computing facilities.

“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.

Adding 36 water-chilled racks and two megawatts of power, the new data center will expand 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, compute power must increase exponentially to keep up.

In addition to the unique research this new data center will enable, its design and construction have also been groundbreaking. Technology firms were challenged to create a data center capable of concentrating a high volume of computational power within a relatively small physical footprint. This “high-density” design naturally requires more efficient cooling, using water-based rear-door heat exchangers.

The Biocomplexity Institute's High-Performance Computing Data Center is being delivered through a Design-Build project delivery method. The design-build delivery method enables a contractor and a designer to team up and work together under a single contract. The team of The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and Wendel has 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 (UPS) 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.

Published by Tiffany Trent, November 21, 2016
Tags: Collaborations  High-Performance Computing