The Tahoe Reno 1 data center at the Switch Citadel Campus spans 1.3 million square feet, the largest colocation center ever built. (Photo: Switch)

Rich Miller
February 15, 2017

Switch has opened the doors on its Citadel Campus outside Reno, Nevada, bringing online a data center behemoth that spans 1.3 million square feet of space. The new facility, dubbed Tahoe Reno 1, is the largest colocation facility ever built, and is supported by up to 130 megawatts of renewable power.

The first data center is a down payment on an even larger vision for the Citadel Campus. Switch says it intends to build up to 7.2 million square feet of IT capacity at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, with a total power capacity of 650 megawatts. That would easily make it the world’s largest data center campus, a distinction Switch already owns with its primary site in Las Vegas.

The Citadel Campus is the new frontier of the mega-scale cloud campus, featuring massive data centers powered entirely by renewable energy. It is the latest sign of the way that cloud computing is reshaping America’s Internet infrastructure, focusing IT capacity in energy-efficient hubs that can deploy cutting -edge strategies in data center design and energy procurement.

A Vision Fulfilled

“Switch Tahoe Reno fulfills the vision of Switch founder and CEO Rob Roy to create the largest data center ecosystem in the world for our customers’ mission-critical workloads,” said Switch Executive Vice President of Strategy, Adam Kramer. “This data center building and campus represents unlimited possibilities for our clients because of its massive scale for power, space, and connectivity.”

The 2,000 acre campus is located in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center next to the Tesla Gigafactory. To support the new site, Switch has built a 500-mile fiber optic network it calls the SUPERLOOP, which connects the Citadel campus with Silicon Valley and the main Switch campus in Las Vegas. Switch says the network can provide latency of 4 milliseconds to the Bay Area, and 7 milliseconds to the SUPERNAPs in Las Vegas, which houses an ecosystem of more than 100 cloud platforms and service providers.

“Our clients’ mission-critical applications demand network redundancy, low latency and geo-diversity,” said Chris Donnelly, Switch Executive Vice President of Connectivity. “The direct fiber connectivity services provided over the Switch SUPERLOOP were designed and constructed to support next-generation, always-on applications with stringent service level agreements at wholesale price points.”

Customers in Reno also gain access to Switch ‘s telecom purchasing cooperative, which includes more than 50 carriers, as well as a custom DDoS mitigation platform.

eBay Signed as Anchor Tenant

The name of the new campus – a citadel is a fortress with a dominant position – reflects Switch’s focus on security and innovation. The new campus is surrounded by a 20-foot concrete wall, and includes the data center design features that have attracted more than 1,000 customers to the Las Vegas SUPERNAPs, focused on creating the very highest levels of resiliency and density.

The company didn’t disclose the volume of installed tenant activity, but eBay will be the anchor tenant for the Citadel Campus. Another tenant is Renown Health, a major hospital network based in Reno.

“When evaluating where to place our most important patient and medical data, we knew we had to have mission-critical delivery of security, the best reliability and 100-percent uptime. said President and CEO of Renown Health, Dr. Anthony Slonim, MD. “That is exactly what Switch is delivering at their data center in Tahoe Reno. There is nothing more important for us than the security and accessibility of the data that the Switch ecosystem ensures is safe and available 24x7x365. Also, to be in an ecosystem that is powered by 100-percent renewable energy embraces our own commitment to a healthier planet.”

Renewable Energy at Scale

Switch has emerged as a leader in the data center industry’s effort to power its operations with renewable energy, according to Greenpeace, which gave the Las Vegas-based company top marks in its Clicking Clean report for 2017.

Switch, which is best known for its massive SUPERNAP campus in Las Vegas, is the first multi-tenant data center provider to receive a perfect score in the six-year history of Greenpeace’s report on IT sustainability.

Switch was cited for its use of 100 percent renewable energy for all of its data centers, its advocacy for policies that support renewable energy, its transparency in reporting green house gas emissions, and its energy-efficient data center design.

At the start of 2016 Switch announced that its Las Vegas SUPERNAP campus was fully powered by renewable energy from NV Energy. The company has contracted for more than 180 megawatts of power from solar, wind and geothermal power sources in Nevada to supports its data centers in the state.

Customers in Reno will be able to access that green power at rates as low as 4.9 cents per kilowatt hour.

A History of Innovation

The 1.4 million square foot Switch SUPERNAP Las Vegas project was recently name the number one cloud campus in our rating of the world’s Top 10 cloud campuses.

The original SUPERNAP expressed Roy’s vision of a new approach to high-density data center design. Built in 2007, the 400,000 square foot data center was most notable for its enormous size, but also showcased new ideas in cooling and aisle containment that Roy developed as he filled six smaller data centers in Las Vegas between 2000 and 2006.

Inside the data hall, Roy’s design for a hot aisle containment system enabled customers to support up to 42 kW per cabinet. The cooling units, who are housed outside the building, are unusually versatile, supporting six different modes of cooling. The software that manages the system selects the most efficient cooling method based on the exterior temperature, humidity and other conditions. The cooling system is supported by a rotary flywheel, which can ensure that the cooling units will continue to move air through the data halls in the event of a utility power outage.

The SwitchSHIELD double roof system provides protection against winds up to 200 miles an hour – more than enough to protect against winds in Tahoe and Reno.

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