Sourced from

Jim Hedger
Expert Author
Published: 2006-06-15

Google, Yahoo and MSN are all building massive datacenters along the Columbia River in southern Washington State and northern Oregon.

According to an article that ran in the June 8 edition of the New York Times, Hidden in Plain Sight, Google Seeks More Power , the three search giants are each tapping into the enormous generating potential of the massive mountain fed river.

Google is adding on to an already huge set of facilities around The Dalles , a town approximately 80miles east of Portland on the border of Oregon and Washington State . Microsoft and Yahoo are both planning similar centers 150 miles north in the Washington State towns of Wenatchee and Quincy . All three communities have the three essential ingredients necessary to build large datacenters on top of.

The Columbia River supplies cheap electricity to surrounding industry. With tens or even hundreds of thousands of processors and hard drive to deal with, ample power is a critical concept.

Next, all three communities sit on top of or very close to massive fiber optics backbones laid during the dot-com boom of the late 1990’s. Over the past few years, each firm has made a point of buying as much redundant fiber as they possibly could with Google rumoured to have gobbled up much of it.

Lastly, each community is fairly remote. One has to really want to go somewhere to travel to any of them. The Dalles is located in a quasi-desert which was reclaimed by farmers. To get to Wenatchee and Quincy from Seattle , 100 miles to the west, one has to do some challenging mountain driving.

The article from the NYTimes includes an amazing arial photograph of the facility Google is building facing the Columbia River in The Dalles . The image shows three football sized buildings, two of which have 4-storey cooling facilities and a series of out-buildings and parking lots.

From the photo, the facility could be an auto-plant or any other industrial factory. It is thought to be one of dozens housing nearly half a million servers that make up Google’s network. By contrast, the article reports that Microsoft currently has approximately 220,000 servers, a network it expects to grow into 800,000 servers by 2011.