Different by Design: How Applied Digital is Redefining Data Center Infrastructure

In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology, particularly within the realms of artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC), the need for innovative infrastructure has never been more critical. At Applied Digital, we’ve taken this challenge head-on, pioneering a data center design that is not just unique but disruptively efficient—crafted specifically for the demands of AI applications. Our journey towards this revolution began with a bold idea and has since materialized into a tangible reality that sets us apart as disruptors in the data center industry.

The Genesis of a Revolutionary Idea
Our story starts with a vision sparked by the impending AI wave, anticipated to reshape the technological horizon. Recognizing the need for a new breed of data centers capable of supporting the intensive power and cooling demands of AI and HPC, Applied Digital embarked on a journey to revolutionize infrastructure from the ground up. The challenge was not just to accommodate AI technology but to enhance and empower it.

Inside-Out Design: AI Brain In A Building
Our inside-out design philosophy begins at the core of what a data center supports: the servers and the high-density computing they enable. By focusing first on the technology and building our infrastructure around it, we ensure that every aspect of our data centers is purpose-built to optimize performance, efficiency, and scalability. This methodology was exemplified in our Jamestown HPC building, conceived to handle high-density computing at an unprecedented low cost, demonstrating our commitment to disrupting the traditional cost model in the data center industry.

Earning NVIDIA’s Endorsement
One of the most validating moments in our journey was when we unveiled our pioneering design to NVIDIA, a leading force in AI and computing technology. Centered around direct liquid cooling and InfiniBand networking architecture, our approach received not just approval but enthusiastic endorsement from NVIDIA. This pivotal support from NVIDIA underscored the effectiveness of our vision for data centers that prioritize power efficiency, compactness, and high-density computing capabilities. Such attributes are essential for the advancing needs of AI and HPC environments, showcasing a shift towards infrastructures that are not just innovative but also meticulously designed to support the intense computational demands of the future, further solidifying our path forward.

Built to Suit AI: The Ultimate Differentiator
What sets Applied Digital’s data centers apart is their bespoke nature, designed from the outset to accommodate the specific needs of AI applications. Our Ellendale project in North Dakota exemplifies this, showcasing how we’ve tailored every aspect of our design to support AI. By design, the data hall orientation strategically places AI and HPC workloads around, beside, below, and above the central InfiniBand network infrastructure corridor. This is accomplished utilizing multiple floors with HPC infrastructure “stacked” from both the horizontal as well as vertical orientation. This unique approach minimizes or eliminates distance limitations required in AI and HPC environments and allows for the full power of the next generation AI/HPC infrastructure to be realized.

By leveraging direct liquid-to-liquid cooling via a blend of direct chip cooling (cold plate) and rear-door heat exchangers, we not only maximize the data center efficiency but also enable a more compact architectural design and unprecedented power densities. This innovative approach not only addresses the limitations of older data centers, which were designed for lower density and primarily air-cooled, but also achieves a better Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) than our competitors. This allows us to significantly reduce the physical footprint of our facilities. Whereas typical data centers might require well over 500,000 square feet to accommodate 125 megawatts of computing power, we are achieving the same capacity in just 345,000 square feet. This compactness minimizes the space between clusters, further enhancing operational efficiency and communication speed within the data center. Our Ellendale project, among others, signifies our commitment to building infrastructure that doesn’t just house technology but enables, enhances, and propels it forward—compacting this down in a manner that no one has done before, thereby reinforcing our ethos of being “Different by Design.”

Disruption and Power Consumption: A New Approach
Embracing our identity as industry disruptors, Applied Digital has taken on one of the data center sector’s significant challenges: realizing and consuming full potential of power utilization to each and every rack. Unlike traditional data centers that often prioritize network latency considerations and are forced to focus heavily on urban fiber connectivity, we’ve shifted the paradigm towards a power-centric design. This means concentrating power in a strategically located, efficiently designed facility, optimizing operational efficiency far beyond standard practices. This has allowed the realization of power delivery in densities previously unimaginable and offers the assurance that the valuable infrastructure is protected by the most efficient and effective cooling in the industry. Our approach doesn’t just cater to the robust demands of large-scale AI applications; it redefines what’s possible, setting new benchmarks for the industry.

A key differentiator in our strategy is our commitment to sustainability, notably through the sourcing of our power and utilizing every watt possible. By constructing data center campuses adjacent to power generation and renewable energy sources, such as wind farms, we ensure that our operations contribute to a reduced carbon footprint and thus a greener planet. These locations provide not only stability but also the flexibility necessary for scalability, allowing us to adapt and grow without the power constraints that traditional metropolitan data centers might face.

The Future is Here
At Applied Digital, “Different by Design” isn’t just a slogan—it’s a manifesto. It represents our unwavering commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the belief that the future of technology infrastructure lies in bespoke solutions that challenge the status quo. As we continue to pioneer the next generation of data centers, our focus remains on creating infrastructure that is not just ready for the future but actively shaping it.

In a world where technology is constantly evolving, standing still is not an option. Applied Digital chooses to move forward, leading the charge in redefining the art of the possible and what data centers can be. Join us in this journey toward a future where infrastructure empowers innovation, crafted not just to meet the demands of today but to anticipate the possibilities of tomorrow.