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DCD>Debate: Data center demolition - A bold move or a bad bet?

In the quest to meet AI and HPC demands, data center construction faces a dilemma: should we design for tomorrow's needs or play it safe? Retrofitting old centers is daunting and expensive, begging the question: is demolishing and rebuilding simply the better option? How many data centers have already reached the end of their life cycle? Who can even afford to create AI-ready data centers?

And yet, if you build from scratch then are you building for the unknown? Surely retrofitting is more flexible as you are not building blind? It is certainly a more greener alternative to using new materials.

While modular construction promises scalability and helps with deployments, concerns arise about cookie-cutter uniformity, especially with fast-paced changes in chip and cooling technology coming into play. To accelerate deployment, other advocates push for industry redesign and campus-level approaches. Moreover, should construction thinking shift from repurposing and redesigning to learning to cut things out and highlight what the data center of the future needs to be?

Held under Chatham House Rule, DCD>Debates are open discussions led by a panel of experts, on the biggest issues to face the industry.