This week we have news of QTS Data Centers’ plans for a massive campus in Georgia that has made headlines as the largest data center in the world. At 7 million square feet, the QTS project is undoubtedly a contender.
Sorting out the largest data centers is a tricky task. In my 22 years of reporting on the data center industry, I’ve asked this question several times (see The Top 10 Cloud Campuses of 2015 and The World’s Largest Data Centers at DCK in 2010). Some of the largest cloud manufacturers don’t disclose the size of their data center campuses, and much of the public campus size data represents a mix of current and future capacity—and sometimes just future capacity.
But the trend toward larger campuses is undeniable, so we’ve tried to quantify the huge wave of MegaCampus in the pipeline and highlighted a few projects that don’t share many details about their size. This task is best addressed by viewing these projects in multiple groupings.
Largest campus with public data
Let’s start with campus projects that have released data about their development plans, including square footage of data center space.
- Compass Data Centers, Prince William County: In June, Compass Datacenters submitted plans to build up to 10.5 million square feet of data center capacity at the Prince William Digital Gateway, a proposed 2,100-acre technology corridor in Manassas, Virginia that could accommodate up to 27 million square feet of data center development. Compass intends to rededicate 825 acres of land for its project. The Digital Gateway is controversial because it borders one of the Manassas Civil War battlefields and a state forest, but a major milestone was reached last week when the Prince William Planning Commission recommended that the project be approved by the Prince William Board of Supervisors, which is expected to check it next month.
- QTS Data Centers, Prince William County: QTS was the first company to announce plans to expand the Prince William Digital Gateway. The rezoning application aims to develop an 800-acre campus that offers the opportunity to build approximately 7.9 million square feet of data center space. Capacity would be distributed, with QTS describing two development areas: Digital Gateway North with up to 5.3 million SF of development on 470 acres and Digital Gateway South with up to 2.6 million sq ft of development on 342 acres. The campus is to be developed in stages, with full expansion expected by 2030.
- Digital Realty, Loudoun County: To secure its long-term expansion plan in Northern Virginia, Digital Realty plans to build one of the world’s largest multi-tenant data center campuses on 1,000 acres adjacent to Dulles Airport, long known as Western Lands. The Digital Dulles campus will create 7.5 million square feet of new data center space over 15 years, according to documents. The development plan calls for 11 oversized data center buildings ranging from 525,000 square feet to 766,000 square feet.
- QTS data centers, Fayetteville, Georgia: This QTS development, known as Project Excalibur, is planned for 16 buildings and up to 7 million square feet, including 6.6 million SF of data centers and 400,000 SF of office space, according to state agency filings. QTS has purchased 615 acres of land in Fayetteville, about 20 miles south of Atlanta, and expects development to begin in 2023 and continue through 2032.
- Switch, Reno: The Citadel Campus is said to be the largest of the five massive CORE campuses being developed by Switch. the Las Vegas-based digital infrastructure specialist. Switch has deployed more than 1 million SF and 130 megawatts on the campus, which was originally estimated at 7.2 million square feet. Recent investor presentations state that Switch plans to add an additional 5 million square feet of data centers, putting the campus expansion at approximately 6 million SF.
- Meta, Iowa: Altoona, Iowa, will become Meta’s largest cloud campus with the addition of two new data centers, the company announced in late 2021. The new capacity will expand Altoona to more than 5 million square feet of data center space, pushing it past the company’s Prineville, Oregon campus (4.6 million square feet). Facebook/Meta has multiple locations ranging from 2 to 4 million square feet.
- Switch, Las Vegas: The original Switch Supernap campus, now known as the CORE campus, has seen continuous expansion since it opened in 2008. It is Switch’s largest operating campus with 2.34 million SF of data centers and 315 MW and another 1.6 million square feet to come. Place the CORE campus nearly 4 million SF.
- Yondr Northern Virginia: Yondr Group has acquired 270 acres of land in Northern Virginia and plans to build 500-megawatt data centers in Loudoun and Prince William counties. The exact campus sizes at these locations are not yet clear. The company’s clients have built more than 500 megawatts of data center capacity since 2011, including 9 million square feet in Finland, the Netherlands and Belgium.
- Air Trunk Sydney 3: Australian hyperscale specialist AirTrunk has been building big for years and recently announced its SYD3 campus in Sydney, a 320-megawatt project that the company says will be the largest in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding China). The project will provide AirTrunk with more than 450 megawatts of capacity in the greater Sydney area. While the company hasn’t included square footage in its releases, total output in megawatts places it among the top campuses.
Competitors of unknown dimensions
Many data center providers do not disclose the square footage or power consumption of their locations. Some of them are clear contenders for the title of the world’s largest campus – or will soon be.
- Google, Iowa: Joe Kava, Google’s data center director, has called the company’s Council Bluffs, Iowa campus the world’s largest data center campus. With the completion of its final phase in February, Google has now invested $5 billion in its Iowa campus. Google started the data center boom in Iowa with its Council Bluffs facility in 2007, which was part of the first wave of Google’s global deployment of massive data center campuses. She has successively expanded the campus over the past 15 years.
- Microsoft, Southern Virginia: Microsoft’s campus in Boydton, Virginia is probably the largest of its many campuses around the world. The campus has grown steadily over several generations of data center designs, including both containerized data center modules and traditional designs. Recent disclosures put the project at 1.1 million SF, but satellite photos suggest the project has grown beyond that size. In 2021, Microsoft acquired 900 acres of land to further expand its operations in Mecklenburg County.
- Amazon Web Services, Ashburn: The digital infrastructure supporting the AWS cloud is vast, encompassing approximately 50 data centers in Northern Virginia. Amazon’s infrastructure is distributed in clusters that typically include three data centers spread across multiple smaller sites rather than a single massive campus, so Amazon doesn’t rank as high in a campus size ranking as it otherwise would. This approach is based on Amazon’s use of Availability Zones, which allow customers to run instances in multiple locations to avoid a single point of failure. While not a traditional campus, AWS has well over 1 million SF of data centers on contiguous lots in Ashburn, Virginia.
- Quantum Loophole, Maryland: The first Quantum Loophole campus in Frederick County will not come online until early 2024, but is expected to arrive with 2,000 acres of land, 1,080 megawatts of power and infrastructure to support energy strategies with integration of natural gas, energy storage and hydrogen. Quantum Loophole has already signed Aligned as its first tenant and is poised to create a new geographic submarket to support the massive cloud cluster in Northern Virginia suffering from power restrictions in Ashburn.
What about China?
Over the years, we’ve seen many reports of massive, multi-million square foot campuses in China. Some of these reports appear to have overestimated the size of the physical infrastructure, as recently noted by DataCenterDynamics, which sought to document claims from multiple campuses. In the interest of sharing verifiable data, we first looked at the publicly traded companies with investor reporting requirements.
- ChinData: ChinData serves large hyperscale providers in China. ChinData’s latest investor presentation states that the company has a capacity of 776 megawatts, which is hyperscale by any measure. The largest ChinData campus appears to be located in Datong, in Shanxi province west of Beijing, where the company says it has deployed 257MW of capacity and plans for the campus to reach 500MW upon completion. A 2020 ChinaDaily story said the initial ChinData facility in Datong was 50MW, described as “Asia’s highest level for a single data center.”
- GDS data centers: This publicly traded data center developer reports a total of 5.42 million square feet for its portfolio, with its largest concentration in Beijing, where it operates 229,000 square meters of data center space, or about 2.46 million square feet.
- Chinese Telecom: As DCD has noted, reports of the true size of the company’s facilities are difficult to verify. But according to media reports, the China Telecom Inner Mongolia Information Park in Hohhot is 10.7 million square feet.
- China mobile device: Multiple reports state that China Mobile operates a 7-million-square-foot data center in Inner Mongolia’s data park, which appears to be neighboring China Telecom’s largest site.