Intel is transforming one of its decommissioned chip fabrication plants into a large, energy efficient data center.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the facility in Santa Clara, California, has a PUE rating of just 1.06 – on par with web-scale data centers maintained by the likes of Facebook and Google.

Intel's Fab 32 in Chandler, Arizona
Intel’s Fab 32 in Chandler, Arizona – Intel

Cleanrooms for servers

Santa Clara is home to Intel’s corporate headquarters and the Intel Museum. Until 2008, it also hosted the company’s last remaining fab in the Silicon Valley, codenamed ‘D2’.

Now, the same building is being used to create one of the most energy efficient data centers in the world. The facility uses free-cooling and other ‘green’ measures to achieve a PUE of 1.06.

For comparison, the Wall Street Journal quotes Facebook’s campus in Prineville, Oregon as having a PUE of 1.078, and Google’s average PUE across all facilities stands at 1.12.

The data center also keeps server utilization at around 90 percent, making most of its hardware resources – something that’s achieved by using intelligent workload queuing software.

“If you look across typical workloads, people would be jumping for joy at 40-50% utilization of their assets but we’re crying if we’re at 86% utilization,” said Kimberly Stevenson, CIO of Intel.

This is not a ‘showroom’ data center – Intel uses the facility to house the infrastructure used to design new processors. Stevenson said moving into a new data center helped reduce the design cycle by 12 weeks.