DC BLOX expands Birmingham data center to empower high-performance computing

DC BLOX, a premier provider of secure and reliable data centers and fiber network solutions throughout the Southeast, today announced the completed expansion of its Birmingham, Alabama data center. This expansion entails a new data hall design, tailored to meet the burgeoning demand for High-Performance Compute (HPC) applications, and marks a significant milestone in DC BLOX’s commitment to foster technological growth and innovation in Birmingham and the surrounding region.

The innovative mixed-hall design not only streamlines the allocation of floor space and power between high-density and standard cabinets, but also sets the stage for adaptable configurations catering to specific regional requirements across the company’s data centers. The new data hall design signifies a major advancement in DC BLOX’s mission to deliver cutting-edge solutions that empower local businesses, government entities, and academic institutions.

By accommodating both high-density cabinets and standard cabinets within the same space, the new design enables researchers to deploy GPU clusters in close proximity to traditional retail racks, both for convenience and for shorter cabling for data transfer. The state-of-the-art infrastructure provides the ability to support up to 2.4MW of 3N/2 distributed redundant power, aligning with the concurrently maintainable Tier III design of our standard data halls. The data hall can house up to 240 standard retail cabinets and 36 HPC-capable cabinets, each supporting up to 35kW of power.

The expansion responds to the surging demand for HPC applications driven by several factors, including the availability of cost-effective HPC systems based on commodity hardware, specialized processor accelerators such as GPUs, and the escalating utilization of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) applications. HPC technology is vital for a wide range of industries, including government, universities, manufacturing, and bio-sciences, yet is often inaccessible due to the lack of data center infrastructure to support its power and connectivity requirements.

Birmingham’s recent recognition as a federal tech hub by the U.S. Economic Development Administration is derived from their transformation into a center for technological excellence. This designation not only recognizes Birmingham’s dedication to innovation, but also its commitment to emerging technology areas, notably artificial intelligence and biotechnology. DC BLOX’s HPC-capable facility and its interconnected network enable customers like the University of Alabama System to process, store, and transmit timely data to research facilities across the country.

“This expansion underscores DC BLOX’s steadfast dedication to empowering the technology-based economy of Birmingham and beyond,” said Jeff Uphues, CEO of DC BLOX. “Our innovative mixed-hall design and HPC capability are testaments to our commitment to respond to the specific needs of our customers in Birmingham. And our new HPC-enabled data hall can be added to the data centers in any of our markets, as demand requires.”

“DC BLOX Birmingham is a key partner for our strategy at UAB IT—Research Computing,” said Ralph Zottola, AVP for UAB Research Computing. “The facility, operations, and staff enable us to design and deploy cutting edge cyberinfrastructure in support of the world-class research conducted at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. From tailoring custom colocation solutions to meet emergent needs during a crisis [COVID-19] to constructing a new data hall engineered and equipped with the infrastructure to deliver the denser power and cooling necessary for high performance computing, the DC BLOX team has proven to be a true partner to UAB Research Computing.”

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