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Iron Mountain's Experimental Room 48 87

twailgum writes "Twenty-two stories underground in Iron Mountain's Western Pennsylvania facility, 'you'll find Room 48, an experiment in data center energy efficiency. Open for just six months, the room is used by Iron Mountain to discover the best way to use geothermal conditions and engineering designs to establish the perfect environment for electronic documents. Room 48 is also being used to devise a geothermal-based environment that can be tapped to create efficient, low-cost data centers.'"
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Iron Mountain's Experimental Room 48

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  • by Icegryphon ( 715550 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:30AM (#30376750)
    Ever since I have seen the History channel [] episode I found the idea quite fascinating.
    Always wondered who and how they plan out which direction they use to cut new rooms.
  • by manyxcxi ( 1037382 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:34AM (#30376778) Journal
    I wonder if the cost of digging into the side of the hill and carving out all these facilities is recouped through energy savings very quickly. I guess it all depends on the number of machines they would be running and the cost of electricity in their area- but if it takes 20 years, or even 10 to recoup the cost is it worth it?
  • by ServerIrv ( 840609 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:46AM (#30376878)
    The probability of digging into any old hillside and create a facility like this is quite low and would be quite expensive. The reason this exists is due to a (profitable) mining operation in the first place. So, that should answer your question. Yes, mining is a profitable business and it is worth the cost to take natural elements out of a mountain. Once the resources have been harvested simply starting a data center in the space left over would be worth the cost. Another geological bonus for this location is a nearby underground lake that can be used as for thermal transfer.
  • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:46AM (#30376882) Homepage Journal

    I'm wondering the same thing. I'm also curious about environmental impact. Less cooling systems mean less carbon emissions, but that's possibly offset by the all the work to excavate.

    I guess it all depends on how long the data center runs down there. Eventually running cool underground could pay off because it could be used for the next 100+ years.

  • by Stachybotris ( 936861 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:47AM (#30376888)
    Pennsylvania is riddled with old mines, both from limestone and coal excavation. It's relatively cheap to purchase 'waste' space that another company excavated fifty to seventy years ago.

    Also, I'm a little remiss that I never knew this existed. I grew up one county over from Butler County and would have loved to have toured a facility like this. Then again, it probably didn't exist in its present state when I was growing up...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:01AM (#30377012)

    I find it funny that this is being run as an experiment since I work at a mine.

    We've had our datacenter down a '2 level' (~300ft) for years where it's secure (IE: Hard to get to) and a constant 4 celcius regardless of the season.

    Only major issue we've had is with regards to humidity and ensuring that the dewatering pumps keep running. (Although... at a 5200 ft in depth it would take a few years for the water to get to the DC if the pumps shut off)

  • by sadness203 ( 1539377 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:11AM (#30377104)
    Second DF reference read today ! :D gotta love this game.
  • by uncledrax ( 112438 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:39AM (#30377386) Homepage

    No, they just flock to your datacenter.

    The most interesting part is where does one get the magma in Iron Mountain they use to kill off thier nobles^H^H^H^H^H^Hmanagers?

    Also I saw a definite lack of levers in the photographs. I'm guessing they don't show them so that way you don't know where the traps are.

  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:45PM (#30378056)

    Interested to hear about your reference on "the earth's energy being used up" - do you have any references? I thought that using the earth as a storage device was more about the ground gathering solar heat and giving it up slowly during the winter, a bit like the sea (amelioration effect near the seaside for coastal towns), and also heat gradually permeating up from the centre.

    Really interested to hear if the storage of heat gets "used up" and takes several years to warm up to the temperature of the ground - what, 10 metres away? 100 metres away? How long does it take to heat back up?

    UK government amongst others are still heavily promoting geothermal energy so suprised if what you say is common knowledge that they continue to recommend this path.


  • by Tekfactory ( 937086 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:02PM (#30378234) Homepage

    As I posted elsewhere in the thread, I used to audit an underground facility.

    One of their problems was employee turnover, a hundred feet down there aren't any windows or sunlight, one person there quit on their very first day.

    I assume like submarine crews, it takes a certain kind of attitude to work underground in a 60 degree room all day with no sunlight. Lighting was provided by the same sort of opressive Fluorescents any cube rat qould recognize. Unlike cube farms, we had rooms the size of football fields (like I said elsewhere these spaces were normally used for warehousing) so you never felt crampt.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.