According to industry experts at the recent Bisnow DICE Rockies conference, the Denver data center market is expected to deploy between 150-500+ MW of capacity in the next 3-5 years. This blog post delves into the crucial insights and trends from the conference, which was structured around four expert-led panel discussions focusing on topics ranging from market dynamics and operational efficiency to sustainability and speed in site delivery.
Data Center Growth In Denver And The Rocky Mountain Region
The conference opened with an insightful panel discussion focused on the current state and future prospects of the data center market in the Rocky Mountain region, which encompasses Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and to some extent, Arizona. While the demand from hyperscalers for more network capacity was universally acknowledged, panelists also identified burgeoning needs stemming from AI, 5G, and augmented reality as significant drivers for growth.
Denver, in particular, is poised for a considerable upsurge, not least because it offers a network-rich market backed by a skilled workforce. The prevailing sentiment was optimistic: there’s an ‘if we build it, they will come’ ethos underlining the next 3-5 years, where the region is expected to deploy between an estimated 150-500+ MW of data center capacity. Interestingly, this growth is unfolding despite Colorado lagging in offering tax incentives—a cornerstone strategy in other states to lure data center investments.
The panel felt that the tax gap may be partially tied to misconceptions surrounding the data center industry, especially in terms of water usage for cooling. There’s a prevalent but outdated belief that data centers consume large quantities of water. However, panelists argued that advancements in zero water use efficiency are helping to challenge the notion that the growth of data centers is unsustainable from a water perspective.
As if these local drivers weren’t compelling enough, the Rocky Mountain data center market is also benefiting from spillover demand from the West Coast, adding another layer of certainty to the massive growth expected in Denver and other parts of the region. There’s no sign of demand slowing down, promising not just robust industry growth but also significant opportunities for economic development and job creation.
Getting Creative With Cooling And Efficient With Operations
As data center power density grows, the industry is under immense pressure to innovate and improve efficiency. One of the key takeaways from the panel discussion on this topic was the emphasis on long-term planning. Experts highlighted the importance of liaising with chip manufacturers and taking a closer look at future innovations in cooling techniques. Liquid cooling and refrigerants were specifically mentioned as the next big thing in efficient data center cooling solutions. Moreover, flexibility was urged, given the rapid technological changes. Planning for the future must be agile, to accommodate unforeseen advancements in technology.
The Great Balancing Act: Sustainability And Power Consumption
The discussion on sustainability and power consumption highlighted that Denver, despite being a Tier 2 market, is commanding considerable attention. Various strategies were examined for balancing the inevitable growth in power consumption with sustainability. These included Xcel’s plans for constructing new transmission lines and a multi-pronged approach to emissions reduction. This latter strategy considers site selection in renewable energy-rich locations, adoption of wind and solar energy sources, as well as exploration into innovative solutions like hydrogen fuel cells and small modular reactor nuclear technology. Fusion energy was also mentioned as a future option worth considering.
In terms of potential shifts within the industry, panelists emphasized the importance of integrated resource planning. There was a strong recommendation to halt the practice of clustering data centers next to hyperscalers due to looming resource constraints. The panel argued that sustainability could be baked into financial planning via green bonds and loans, thereby appealing to sustainability-conscious investors.
From Site Selection To Delivery: Meeting Client Demand
The final panel focused on the intricacies of site selection and speedy delivery without compromising on scale or sustainability. AI, which is becoming increasingly power-hungry, is a major factor driving changes in data center design and scale. Other trends noted include the inflow of talent from the oil and gas sectors, aptly capturing the sentiment that ‘data is the new oil,’ and the massive maturity growth in construction technologies.
Panelists also touched on the criteria for evaluating new technologies, emphasizing that solutions must not only fulfill a business need but also be straightforward to implement. The discussion wrapped up with the note that NVIDIA’s highest-end GPU, the H100, is sold out until Q1 of next year. Despite challenges, NVIDIA is planning a substantial ramp-up in production, aiming to ship 400,000 H100 GPUs per quarter thereafter. This serves as a strong indicator of the industry’s rapid pace of change.
Denver and the Rocky Mountain region are in the midst of a boom in data center growth, driven by various technological advancements and market demands. While the challenges are numerous—from sustainable energy use to the rapid rate of technological change—the opportunities for innovation and growth are abundant.
So, what’s the next step? How can the data center industry and policymakers ensure this growth is sustainable for the long term? How can the region set itself apart as a global leader in this field? Only time, and perhaps the next Bisnow DICE Rockies conference, will tell.
Additional Thoughts: The DCX Advantage In The AI And HPC Era
The Bisnow DICE Rockies conference was a compelling spotlight on the future of the data center industry, a future that DCX is not just prepared for, but purpose-built to lead. We are designing our campuses with the explicit focus on high-performance computing, artificial intelligence , and mission-critical applications. In an age where the AI boom is not slowing down, DCX stands ready to support and accelerate this technological revolution.
The panel discussions at the conference emphasized the significant choices that will shape the data landscape of tomorrow. At DCX, those choices are already informing our innovative strategies, ensuring that we’re not just meeting the demands of today, but anticipating those of the future. As the industry evolves, DCX is committed to being a leading force in the transformation, making it clear that the future of data is not just about storage, but about smart and effective management and deployment.
Resources And Further Reading
For an overview of the conference topics, speakers, and relevant industry news from the Bisnow DICE Rockies event, visit the official event page.