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August 16, 2020 | Tom Ballard

GIGA Data Centers bringing revolutionary technology to Oak Ridge

A less than three-year old company with big plans to revolutionize the data center market nationally has announced plans to open a new facility in Oak Ridge.

GIGA Data Centers, which opened its first co-location center in Charlotte a little more than a year ago, is retrofitting an existing 30,000 square foot building once used by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Y-12 National Security Complex to store classified documents. Current plans call for the facility – GIGA’s second – to open sometime during the first or second quarter of calendar year 2021.

“We would love to be available in January,” Jake Ring, GIGA’s President and Chief Executive Officer, told us in a recent interview. “The timing depends on the pace of renovations. It was built as a secured document archive with bank style vaults. We are removing partitions and opening-up the space.”

The building, which can be expanded to 60,000 square feet as demand grows, will open with 4MW of critical power in a 2N configuration in the first phase. The data center will have access to multiple fiber-optic carriers as well as high-reliability substations fed by TVA with green and renewable electricity. In addition, the Oak Ridge facility represents the latest in data center innovation to cost-effectively support the higher power requirements needed for high-performance computing and storage in artificial intelligence, healthcare, manufacturing, and many other industry segments.

“We’re using the same type of systems approach to co-location data centers that Google and Microsoft use for their facilities,” Ring says, adding, “We are excited to be here.”

The decision to make Oak Ridge the company’s second location was driven by GIGA’s long-term growth strategy and the opportunity to serve a growing base of companies and others wanting to access the internationally recognized high-performance computing capabilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Regarding the former, Ring said, “We see it as a steppingstone to build our network in Tier 2 and Tier 3 communities across the country.” Opening an Oak Ridge facility also helps users who want to access ORNL’s evolving supercomputers. When put into operation in mid-2018, Summit was ranked as the world’s fastest supercomputer, but recently ceded that position to Japan’s Fugaku. That ranking is expected to change again when ORNL delivers Frontier in 2021 with a performance of greater than 1.5 exaflops.

“We’ll help enable customers who want to access those facilities,” Ring says, explaining that being close-by is very important to certain users. GIGA’s Oak Ridge facility will offer the lowest-latency solution for companies seeking access to ORNL’s elite level of scientific computing facilities while also providing an ultra-high efficiency, forward-looking facility that will reduce colocation costs, compared to standard data centers using raised-floor cooling.

“With our new facility, companies of all sizes will finally have access to high-performance compute capabilities at affordable prices,” Ring says.

What’s GIGA’s secret sauce? It is something called the WindChill™ Enclosure system. First installed in GIGA’s CLT-1 Data Center in Charlotte with a high concentration of financial and healthcare institutions, the WindChill™ system provides dual benefits – a lower energy cost and a more flexible way to support whatever type of equipment GIGA’s customers need over a broad range of power use configurations.

“There’s an important metric that data centers use,” Ring said. “It’s called Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) that describes how efficiently a data center uses energy.” Specifically, PUE is determined by dividing the amount of power entering a data center by the power used to run the computer infrastructure within it. PUE is expressed as a ratio with overall efficiency improving as the quotient decreases toward 1.

“The most common PUE is 2 to 1,” Ring says. “Ours is much smaller, more like 1.15. We deliver a very efficient level of cooling, which reduces the overall electricity use dramatically.”

The new Oak Ridge data center will use an updated WindChill™ design that builds on an already very efficient system.

The company is pre-leasing space now, and those interested in learning more can contact Michael Shaw at or at (800) 301-7436 ext. 704.

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