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Google Confirms $600M South Carolina Data Center 144

miller60 writes "Google continues its furious data center building program in the Carolinas. Today the company announced a $600 million data center in Berkeley County, South Carolina. Google has already begun construction on a $600 million data center project in Lenoir, North Carolina, and is in the permitting process on another huge project in Richland County, South Carolina. Google's appetite for large tracts of land and cheap power are driving the site location process. Similar huge projects in central Washington are already transforming the tiny town of Quincy, where real estate prices have spiked, with open land fetching as much as 10 times its previous value."
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Google Confirms $600M South Carolina Data Center

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  • Maps (Score:3, Funny)

    by needacoolnickname ( 716083 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @09:54PM (#18630077)
    Any of these sites on Google Maps?
    • by garcia ( 6573 )
      Use My Maps [] and plot it for everyone else.

      That or use custom KML(Z)s with it already plotted.
    • Re:Maps (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:29PM (#18630339)
      Doesn't look like it. I live about a mile from the site. I just looked on Google Maps and Google Earth and I see where it is but the maps do not show that the ground has been broken yet. Trust me, the construction began months ago. They have already cleared a lot of the woods. That doesn't show up yet. As someone in the IT field living just down the street, we are glad that Google is coming... but we do not kid ourselves either. I told a co-worker the other day that an intellectual company like Google does not locate their data center int the state that is 50th in education for the local talent pool. It may have been underplayed but it was said that they are under no obligation to hire from the local economy. Either way. I personally welcome our new Google overlords here in Goose Creek. My advice? Not matter what the locals say, do not eat the grits. I have lived here since 1977 and those things are disgusting. Stick with oatmeal... ya'll.
      • I live in New England and would kill for some QUALITY grits up here.

        Also, Google Earth isn't updated daily, the images of my house show the car in the driveway of the people who lived here before the people who lived here lived here.
      • Re:Maps (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ezratrumpet ( 937206 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:06PM (#18630577) Journal
        South Carolina education is a little deceptive. The schools in the Myrtle Beach area are extraordinary, with high teacher pay, excellent resources, and strong student achievement. Cross the county line, and you find one of the most underfunded and outdated school districts in the United States.

        If you're looking for smart, capable people in South Carolina (or California, or Idaho, or wherever), you'll find smart, capable people - as long as compensation is strong.

        Most of Google's hires may be from out of state, but they will quickly become South Carolinians through property purchase, taxation, and spending their money within the local service economy.

        Teaching them to love Lowcountry shrimp boil will take a few weeks; teaching them to say "y'all" as a pronoun will take a few months; teaching them to refer to all soft drinks as "Coke" takes one to two years. But now I'm offtopic.....
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by packeteer ( 566398 )
          And it will take generations for them to catch onto boiled peanuts.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          This is not necessarily a 100% draw for experienced talents. Moving to a region with only a small handful of companies leave you at the mercy of the company (google in this case). If you were out in NY or CA packed with jobs, you can always find the next thing when things don't work out. In south carolina you don't have that option. People do not work 10+ years at companies anymore.

          You will likely take a paycut since the area is cheaper. After that, you will lose value if you try to move out of SC. I
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "Stick with oatmeal... ya'll." You obviously have not lived here that long. Everyone south of Virgina knows it is "y'all", meaning "you all"
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FooAtWFU ( 699187 )
        If grits are disgusting, you're eating them wrong. You need good hominy grits (I don't care for the yellow kind) that you cook, serve, and let solidify to about the consistency of mashed potatoes.... In fact, come to think of that, you can treat them fairly similarly to mashed potatoes in many respects... DON'T drown them in butter or syrup or salt them to death. That IS disgusting. Just a little little bit of butter, mmmaybe a sprinkling of raisins, and you have a good munchy substance to fill you up with
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

        Doesn't look like it. I live about a mile from the site. I just looked on Google Maps and Google Earth and I see where it is but the maps do not show that the ground has been broken yet. Trust me, the construction began months ago.

        I don't think you or the OP AC realise that Google [Earth|Maps] data is updated on a _very_ irregular basis with an emphasis on large metropolitan areas. (Which Charleston isn't.) Data can be as much as six years out of date.
      • I'll say what I always say when someone says what you just said: you haven't had them made properly. Trust me. Real stone-ground grits, made with a little cream, butter, and chicken stock, are delicious.

        Off topic, yes, but it had to be said.
  • by tiltowait ( 306189 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @09:56PM (#18630105) Homepage Journal
    Makes you wonder if this (Business)Week's cover story is right, Is Google Too Powerful? []
  • Does anybody notice that despite the fact that land an power is cheap in Arkansas and Mississippi, they still haven't opened data centers there? :)

    I would love for them to open one in the Little Rock area. I wonder if I could convince them somehow...
    • by Svet-Am ( 413146 )
      As an alum of Mississippi State, I think that a Google Data Center would fit in perfectly as MSU's ERC: []

      Plus, Mississippi _loves_ to attract new business by giving them gargantuan incentives. For example, when Mississippi brought Nissan to Mississippi (the only plant that manufactures the Armada and the Titan), they _gave_ Nissan the land, gave them the water, power, and road infrastructure, and deferred their property taxes for five years. My mom is an economic developer for Mi
      • by SnowZero ( 92219 )

        I'm sure that a big-name company like Google could likely score some similar perks.

        I'm sure they already did get good incentives for their new site.
      • by RESPAWN ( 153636 )
        Actually, Mississippi's recent succeses at attracting major manufacturing facilities was one of the reasons I used your state as an example. Don't they also build the Altima at that plant? Anyway, there was a bit of an uproar in Arkansas that your state got the plant over us. Apparently we were in the running, but our politicians weren't willing to give as much as Mississippi's politicians. That was a bad move on our part.

        I would love to see a Google data center here (jobs!), but central Arkansas isn't
  • Waste (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Google's appetite for large tracts of land and cheap power are driving the site location process.
    Peak oil has already happened and we are beginning down the decline curve. "Cheap power" is becoming more scarce with no entity will escape the harsh reality.
    Google has to face the facts. Pushing pixels around a screen is the really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
  • If it lasts (Score:4, Informative)

    by dorpus ( 636554 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @09:59PM (#18630137)
    Will it be one of those weird corporate mega-projects that will get shut down as soon as its built? The corporation had no intention of using the facility, it was just building something for the sake of pleasing investors, getting tax breaks. This is routine business in IT -- Silicon Valley was full of billion-dollar empty campuses when I lived there.

  • that everybody is upfront as they claim. They seemed to stress that issue a wee bit too much.
    • Not all may have been well with Google's Carolinas operation. Take a look at what Nick Carr [] wrote a couple of months ago about some alleged strong-arming tactics the company used. He actually did multiple posts on this subject, which are all linked to from the bottom of the post. I don't know how to answer BusinessWeek's question, "Is Google too powerful?", but by the looks of it the company allegedly acted like it is.
  • by mamono ( 706685 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:02PM (#18630165)
    Don't like her? What's wrong with her. She's beautiful, she's rich, she's got huge ... tracts of land.
  • So much cruft (Score:2, Interesting)

    It sounds like the expansion of the internet is making these search engines use alot more hardware and energy to make all of the content searchable. If only we could automate methods of removing some of the cruft from being included in the search domain then the whole process would be more efficient. I'm mostly referring to the seemingly endless amount of automatically generated content and just plain bizarre content that searches always turn up.
  • Goog-y'all! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This should be interesting to see. I've friends in the area, and know from them that real estate was already booming, thanks to the urban sprawl of Charleston (pronounced "Challston", for you Yankees out there). Perhaps some of the massive amount of money that is bound to get injected into the local economy will make it to people who could really use it - Berkeley County is not the most wealthy area of our country...

    And as a side benefit, I am hoping it will raise the overall 'tech level' of the area, not j
  • Skynet awakeining is getting closer all the time. Few more of these data centers and what wont they be able to take over?
  • by dr_strang ( 32799 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:15PM (#18630255)
    It's SO refreshing to see stereotypes painted with such a broad brush.

    I for one am excited to see how this works out. I will definitely send them my resume. South Carolina is a fantastic place to work and live, and with more high-tech jobs like this coming to the state and the area, it can only get better.
    • by syrion ( 744778 )
      I'm also a bit confused by the idea that this is motivated by real estate prices. The Lenoir data center makes no sense in that context. North Carolina is the tenth most populous state, and good chunks of it aren't actually places you can live. (The western third of the state is all wrinkly.)
    • I also live about 20 miles from where the Berkley County plant will be. It is my hope that this improves the quality of jobs (through competition) for the entire Lowcountry.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fessor eli ( 977181 )
      That particular location is close to one of the nation's unique cities, Charleston, and is actually a fairly progressive part of the state. Of course, that's "progressive" compared to the rest of the state. (I grew up in another county.) Google will have to decide to get involved in improving the education system if they want long-term growth there, like Toyota has done in my now-home state, Kentucky. Otherwise, they will be importing every employee from elsewhere, and will eventually have trouble drawing t
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dr_strang ( 32799 )
        I don't think this stereotyped dearth of intelligent and motivated people is a reality. I've lived and worked in Charleston for a long time in the technology sector and I've worked with and known many smart, creative and motivated people. There's a large software company here and a lot of advanced industry in the area as well. Just because the DC is in Berkeley County doesn't mean you have to live in a trailer out in the boondocks (but you can if you like)... It's right next to Charleston County as well as
        • That depends on where it is in Berkeley county the DC goes up. Down on the south side, living in Charleston, Summerville, or Goose Creek is an option. Further up - it becomes less and less so. (Unless they've finally fixed up 52.)
      • Many SC companies draw on the large retired/separated military population. Charleston AFB will be a steady source of people.
        Good companies can cherry-pick employees from many such sources in SC.
    • While I'm sure the people are nice and not as retarded as the media makes them out to be, one thing I couldn't stand about South Carolina is the weather. Yes, the winters are mild. But that's just a euphemism for "oppressively humid summers and bugs that won't die."

      I can't stand August here in PA. It's too hot to enjoy anything outside between 10AM and sunset. Going further south would mean that period of time would get longer and longer. Not to mention that the only winter weather in SC seems to be horrib

  • by drew_92123 ( 213321 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:24PM (#18630307)
    keep in in that it's not just how much the power costs, but how much is available in the area... some areas simply don't have an extra 40MW to spare... Here in Quincy they will be pulling around 200MW within 3-5 years...
    • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:04PM (#18630557) Journal
      At what point does it make sense to "make your own power"?

      Seriously, I have done no research, and I know there is an economy of scale issue, but if you really need lots of power, in one location, surely it must become cost effective at some point to build your own generator.

      With no transmission loss, right-of-way issues, delivery infrastructure, etc. there has to be some break-even-point. Wouldn't the entire output of a 200MW plant be cheaper if it was just for a single on-site consumer?

      Discuss amongst yourselves, thank you.

      • by rm999 ( 775449 )
        "delivery infrastructure"

        What about the delivery infrastructure of coal shipments? I think the last thing Google wants to do is get into the power plant business.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by uab21 ( 951482 )
        500MW will cost you about one billion dollars (can you hear the pinky?). 200MW is likely not half the cost, so we are talking several hundred million dollars. Up front. Not including fuel and maintenance costs. There are some customers that have smaller generating capacity on site, but they generally have need for more than power, say for example, chemical refineries that can use the waste heat or steam, pressure for pumping a pipeline, or other uses.
      • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:00AM (#18630913)
        At what point does it make sense to "make your own power"?

        Umm... at what point does it ever make sense to build a datacenter that doesn't have the ability to run off its own power? South Carolina can experience some grid-pummeling weather, sometimes. If Google plans on having that facility up 24x7, there will be a small fleet of diesel generators and a small ocean of fuel sitting right there to keep it afloat in a pinch. Especially when what they're really up to isn't growing for more search, but growing to host web-based business apps and other stuff that they'll be telling people they can really depend on.

        Now, just because you CAN run off your own power doesn't mean you want to do it for long, since it's very maintenance intensive.
        • Umm... at what point does it ever make sense to build a datacenter that doesn't have the ability to run off its own power?

          Umm... that wasn't the question!

          The _ability_ to generate emergency backup power vs _cost effectively_ powering 24x7 continuous operation are completely different requirements. A one thousand times higher cost per MWh might be acceptable for backup power, but for continuous daily power, the grandparent poses a pretty interesting question as to when it becomes cost effective to produce yo
          • Seems inevitable that google would tackle that problem at some point, at the rate they're scaling.

            I agree. I'd be surprised if they didn't actually end up selling power to the grid, for that matter. With small text ads, of course.
      • Its called a co-lo (Score:3, Informative)

        by tacokill ( 531275 )
        What you are talking about is a co-lo power station. Lots of plants have these. 3M in Austin, TX comes to mind as does TI in Dallas and Sherman, TX. I am quite certain Lockheed in Ft Worth has one as well. Basically -- they are pretty common.

        Most the co-los I am familiar with are in the 10-20MW range. I've never seen one larger so I am guessing that is the point where "it makes sense".

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Nocterro ( 648910 )
        I don't know about datacenters but near where I lived growing up was a small oil refinery, just supplying the needs of a couple of million people, and it had a small three turbine gas-fired plant next to it. Might have something to do with the fact that here in South Australia, gas is reasonably cheap, and it was a long way away from major transmission lines or, for that matter, power plants. Guess economic feasability depends partly on what energy sources are around to supply your power plant. Building a d
      • FWIW I've seen this happen at plants all along the Ohio river, but they're mostly aluminum refineries, various petrochemical plants and other industrial-looking setups. I have no clue what the breakeven wattage is for on-site power generation, but I'm guessing it's pretty huge.

        The really clever ones (IMO) are set up next door to a stripmine, where the coal elevator/tredmill runs directly over route 7, straight into the plant's furnace (or so it would seem, trundling down the road at 50mph). My guess is th
    • Those datacenters SHOULD have been in Moses Lake, but the Grant County PUD is so fucking stupid that they wound up going to Quincy, and, funny thing, the PUD, who owns the network, is making diddly squat off the deal. Noanet is getting the huge cash piles because the Grant County PUD has to make sure their fiber network doesn't make too much or the IRS will come calling and start sniffing around an issue of tax-free bonds used for funding it, along with other potentially shady funding practices. Grant Count
  • Can someone explain to me what a data center really is? I just imagine a bunch of servers. How many people does this require to be present? It must be a lot to drive up housing prices but I'm curious what all these people do.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, basically a data center is just a large bunch of servers organized nicely in racks with reliable power, cooling, and connectivity.

      Obviously a few people are needed to maintain a data center, but in a good organization with standardized hardware, OS, and software platforms, and disciplined backup/restore procedures, remarkably few.
      • Remember that Google likes to use commodity 2nd hand hardware which fails a lot. It's not like a datacenter with lots of brand new expensive systems that have guarantees.
        • They do use inexpensive commodity hardware, but no where have I heard that they use 2nd hand hardware. Do you have a source?
    • I have a BS in Computer Science and about 10 years of experience. With Google's awesome training program, I am sure I will able to complete all my duties as Data Center Janitor quite successfully.

      You can't let just anyone vacuum and clean around all those servers you know!
  • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) * on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:41PM (#18630425) Journal
    Berkeley County, South Carolina?

    They're building a new facility on the opposite coast, just cover up the fact that they never realized they were talking to the government of the wrong Berkeley the whole time?

    Guys: just give up. It's not worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid saying, "oops, we goofed".
  • I live in Richland County, SC and will be selling my house in the next couple of months. So if you want to work for Google and really like to plan ahead I can get you a good deal on a nice 3BR before the prices go up!
  • Not to be naive, but what exactly does google need this data centers for? I mean, its not like they're busting at the seams right now, is it? Their services don't seem slow to there some huge project that they are about to undertake or something? Don't get me wrong, I understand growth and that they would constantly need to expand.....but several half-billion dollar datacenters? What the hell?
    • by SirTalon42 ( 751509 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:21PM (#18630671)
      I'm pretty sure I remember reading an article on Slashdot a while back that Google was beginning to run out of space with their current infrastructure (though I think that was several data center announcements ago). Remember that Google pretty much makes their own copy of the internet, as well as having a crap load of data about every single site out there, has to store all the gmail email, all their adsense/adwords data for every customer, and most likely they store all that information in multiple places. Oh yes, can't forget about storing all the videos from youtube/google video, thats probably a LOT of data there, plus its most likely a massive amount of bandwidth as well.
      • Well, it would be great if they put a datacenter out here in Idaho. There's gobs of cheap sagebrush land, and ultra-cheap power from the dams on the Snake. (Our residential power is one of the 3 cheapest in the nation last I know, at about 6 cents.) The tech industry is decent, with Micron HQ and a large HP plant, and plenty of smaller outfits.
      • So make sure their HDs are below MTBF, they surely rotate and replace harddrives >12months old regardless if they are working (who buys em?) and insert new
        ones that are DOUBLE the previous size at a cheaper cost, ie pull out an old raid 120gig * 8 setup and replace with 400 gig * 8 setup.

        Surely constantly upgrading storage devices will double their storage capacity per building.

        And their hosting servers too would double in power, with cell servers or 8core replacements.

        Unless there is a dual use roll for
      • They don't just make their own copy of the internet, they make a dozen copies of the internet. They mirror their search index (and probably other stuff as well) as close to the user as possible, so these data centers are probably filled with a bunch of redundant data.
  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:02PM (#18630549) Homepage
    The summary leaves me scratching my head because the Quincey project is a Microsoft data center, nothing to do with Google. Google is building a data center in The Dalles, Oregon, right on the Columbia River. mand=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9001262 []

    Quincy is near enough to the Columbia to have cheap hydro power, but I just looked at the map and it's not right on the Columbia like The Dalles. I wonder if Google will use water from the Columbia to help cool their data center; and I wonder what the plan is for the Quincy data center. (Ordinary air conditioning? That part of Washington is cold in the winter but hot in the summer.)

  • Nucular in SC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:59AM (#18632601) Homepage Journal

    In SC, we have the highest percentage of electricity supplied from nuclear (nucular?) power, so I have heard.

    This may help protect us from a rise in oil prices, I hope.

    And we are building more reactors at existing sites. Not only are we a dumping ground for nuclear waste, we also have tons of power available, and our beaches are nice too...

    • Not only are we a dumping ground for nuclear waste, ... our beaches are nice too...

      Yeah! My sister visits every year and she always has a healthy glow!

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright