ECL unveils world’s first off-grid, hydrogen-powered AI data center

Data Center-as-a-Service pioneer ECL has announced the delivery of the world’s first data center that uses hydrogen as its primary power source at MV1, its facility in Mountain View, California. The company also announced an additional $10M in funding led by Hyperwise Ventures, which will be used to accelerate research and development and expand the company’s global footprint. ECL’s off-grid, sustainable, modular, built-to-suit data centers are the industry’s first to be designed from the ground up to support the high densities of GPUs that are the backbone of AI infrastructure, with PUE of 1.1 and high-density deployments of up to 75kw per rack.

ECL data centers are optimized to support the massive amounts of computational power required by AI workloads, making them ideally suited for companies seeking to deliver AI applications or to leverage AI to accelerate their own innovation and operations. They are designed to be built and operated off-grid by any company in need of scalable data center capacity, including enterprises in addition to cloud providers and other hyperscale service providers. ECL data centers provide the industry’s lowest TCO and fastest time-to-market, with unprecedented flexibility in terms of location, size, and density.

ECL’s unique support for AI infrastructure is further advanced by its innovative data center management system, ECL Lightning™, which provides real-time monitoring and control of every aspect of the data center, from power generation to power delivery and rack cooling. Its intuitive UI gives customers comprehensive visibility and configuration capabilities, ensuring that AI and other workloads are always performing optimally.

ECL cooling innovations, including utilization of water created from hydrogen-based power generation and proprietary rear door heat exchanger technology for high-density rack cooling, completely eliminate reliance on local resources. ECL data centers are modular, giving customers the option to expand them as needed in 1MW increments. They are also built-to-suit and can be designed and delivered in less than 12 months instead of the industry standard two-to-three years.

Cato Digital Named First Tenant

Sustainable bare metal cloud provider Cato Digital, led by longtime data center industry innovator and iMasons founder Dean Nelson, is ECL’s first customer. Cato provides dedicated GPU server rental to platform partners, enterprises and retail users that are ideal for inference engines, generative AI, and continuous training of small language models (SLMs) that are predicted to be even more pervasive than concentrated LLM training data centers. The company is deploying NVIDIA DGX hardware configured at the highest density possible to fully utilize the ECL design at MV1. ECL and Cato are founding members of the iMasons Climate Accord (ICA), an industry body of over 260 companies representing a combined market cap of $6T USD that have united on decarbonizing digital infrastructure.

“The rapid expansion of AI has put incredible strain on global data center power capacity,” said Nelson. “Building more of today’s current data centers won’t solve it. We have to rethink how to deploy dense compute to serve this unprecedented growth. ECL is uniquely positioned as they have redesigned the data center from the ground up. It is setting a new standard for excellence in the design, development, and delivery of hydrogen-powered data centers today, not years from now. Cato has been closely aligned and involved with ECL since its inception. We are extremely proud to be the first tenant at this iconoclastic new site in the heart of Silicon Valley.”

Established in 2021, ECL is led by Yuval Bachar, who previously held top engineering, infrastructure and architecture roles at Microsoft Azure, LinkedIn, Facebook, Cisco, Juniper Networks, and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Bachar was a founder of the Open19 project, a data center industry initiative establishing a new open standard for servers based on a common form factor, and is the past president of the Open19 Foundation. He holds eight U.S. patents with an additional 20 pending in data center, networking, and system design and is the recipient of three Cisco Pioneer Awards.

“Many data center providers have identified hydrogen as the power source of choice for the future of the data center due to its exceptional safety record, improved efficiency and reliability, sustainability, and recent technological advancements,” said Yuval Bachar, Founder and CEO of ECL. “The significant upfront cost associated with re-engineering existing facilities and transitioning to hydrogen fuel cells makes the transition prohibitive for most data center operators, whose revenue forecasts and financial stability are rooted in the perpetuation of legacy technologies. ECL has broken the mold, embracing not only hydrogen but the opportunity to support the ever-increasing space, power, and cooling demands of the AI industry in the race to realize all of its projected benefits. We can’t wait to see what our customers will do with the ability to accelerate into the future that ECL provides.”

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