The Architecture Issue – Data Center Overload: Article about the massive data centers that we all use and know exist, but never see. They’re around, and they’re flippin’ huge it turns out.
The Tukwila data center happens to be one of the global homes of Microsoft’s Xbox Live: within those humming machines exists my imagined city of ether. Like most data centers, Tukwila comprises a sprawling array of servers, load balancers, routers, fire walls, tape-backup libraries and database machines, all resting on a raised floor of removable white tiles, beneath which run neatly arrayed bundles of power cabling. To help keep servers cool, Tukwila, like most data centers, has a system of what are known as hot and cold aisles: cold air that seeps from perforated tiles in front is sucked through the servers by fans, expelled into the space between the backs of the racks and then ventilated from above. The collective din suggests what it must be like to stick your head in a Dyson Airblade hand dryer.
One really interesting note: machines today are so power-hungry, that in 3-5 years, you’ll spend as much on electricity to power the server as you did to buy it. That’s why data centers are moving to places where electricity costs are as low as possible.