What is a Hyperscale Data Center?

Hyperscale Data Center
Hyperscale Data Center

A hyperscale data center is like a traditional data center, except everything is done on an enormous scale – they have thus been built to meet the specific needs of large scale organizations.

As the name suggests, hyperscale data centers are vast facilities, which are capable of fulfilling storage needs that are far higher than an SME.

To understand how these facilities scale to meet the demands of their users, it’s essential to consider two primary dimensions: horizontally and vertically.



Scaling horizontally, also known as scale-out, involves adding more machines or nodes to a pool to increase capacity or throughput. 

With hyperscale data centers, this means expanding the facility’s resources by adding more servers, storage units, or networking gear to handle additional load. 

This approach is particularly well-suited to cloud computing environments, where the demand for resources can fluctuate dramatically and rapidly.

Horizontal scaling allows hyperscale data centers to be incredibly flexible and responsive to changing demands. When more processing power, storage space, or networking capacity is needed, additional units can be seamlessly integrated into the existing infrastructure without disrupting service. 



Vertical scaling, or scale-up, involves increasing the capacity of existing machines or systems by adding more powerful components, such as faster CPUs, more RAM, or larger storage drives. 

In hyperscale data centers, vertical scaling is used in conjunction with horizontal scaling to maximize the efficiency and performance of the infrastructure.

By upgrading the capabilities of individual nodes, hyperscale data centers can handle more intensive workloads without necessarily increasing the number of machines. This can be particularly important for applications that require high-performance computing resources or for databases that benefit from having large amounts of memory. 

Vertical scaling also allows for the consolidation of workloads, which can improve performance and reduce latency by minimizing the distance data must travel between components.

However, there are limits to how much a single machine can be scaled up, which is why hyperscale data centers typically rely on a combination of both horizontal and vertical scaling strategies. 


What Are the Key Factors of a Hyperscale Data Center?

These facilities differ significantly from traditional data centers due to their size, scalability, and the efficiency with which they operate. 

Several key factors distinguish hyperscale data centers and are critical to their function and performance:


1. Scalability

One of the hallmark features of a hyperscale data center is its ability to scale rapidly and efficiently. This scalability is not just in terms of physical space but also computing power, storage capacity, and network infrastructure. 

Hyperscale data centers are designed to grow horizontally by adding more servers or vertically by upgrading existing hardware, allowing them to easily accommodate the increasing demands of large-scale organizations.


2. Automation

Hyperscale data centers rely heavily on automation to manage and maintain their vast infrastructures. Automation is used for a wide range of tasks, from server provisioning and load balancing to security and disaster recovery. 

This reduces the need for human intervention, lowers the risk of errors, and improves operational efficiency and reliability.


3. Energy Efficiency

Given their size and the amount of power they consume, hyperscale data centers must prioritize energy efficiency to minimize operational costs and reduce their environmental impact. 

This is achieved through advanced cooling technologies, energy-efficient hardware, and the use of renewable energy sources. The design and layout of the facility also play a crucial role in maximizing airflow and reducing cooling requirements.


4. High Density

Hyperscale data centers are characterized by their high-density setups, where a large number of servers are packed into a relatively small physical space. 

This not only maximizes the use of space but also enhances the efficiency of cooling systems and power distribution. 

High-density configurations require sophisticated management systems to ensure optimal performance and prevent overheating.


5. Redundancy and Reliability

To ensure high availability and minimize downtime, hyperscale data centers implement extensive redundancy at all levels of their architecture, from power supplies and cooling systems to network connections and data storage. 

This redundancy is complemented by robust disaster recovery and fault tolerance mechanisms, ensuring continuous operation even during hardware failure or other disruptions.


6. Network Infrastructure

The network infrastructure of a hyperscale data center is designed to handle massive amounts of data traffic with minimal latency. This involves the use of high-speed networking technologies, efficient routing protocols, and direct connections to major internet backbones. The network architecture must also be flexible and scalable to accommodate changing traffic patterns and growth.


7. Security

With the vast amounts of sensitive data they store and process, hyperscale data centers implement stringent security measures to protect against physical and cyber threats. 

This includes multi-layered security protocols, access controls, surveillance systems, and regular security audits. Cybersecurity measures are particularly emphasized, with advanced encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems in place.


What’s the difference between a data center and a hyperscale data center?

The term data center refers to any building that’s dedicated to the housing of IT equipment and servers, for the use of a whole range of different businesses and organizations. Data centers provide a fast and reliable service to businesses that rely on their IT infrastructure, and house data in a safe and secure way off-site. 

Hyperscale data centers fulfill a similar role, but they do it in a different way. The key difference between typical data centers and hyperscale ones is of course the size of them. Hyperscale data centers are much bigger than other data centers. They therefore have capabilities that far exceed those of a typical on-prem data center. 

Hyperscale data centers are more similar to colocation facilities, but specifically designed to meet the technical and operational needs of hyperscale companies like Amazon or IBM. 

As they functions similar to hyper-scaled colocation facilities, one of the key benefits is the fact that they can take advantage of economies of scale. A typical hyperscale data center will contain over 5,000 servers and it’s not uncommon to see customers use an entire dedicated floor within a data center – if not an entire building. This larger dedicated space allows higher level of power per deployment (potentially up to 50 megawatts in one deployment). 


Colocation vs Hyperscale

We covered a few of the similarities above, but let’s dive deeper into the relationship between these two. Colocation and hyperscale are ultimately the same type of service. As mentioned above, the basic difference is the sheer size. 

Typically, hyperscale data centers are 10,000 square feet or more and anything smaller than that would be considered a standard colocation data center.


How big are hyperscale data centers? 

Hyperscale facilities are generally considered those that are built or leased 20+ MW. That number will then grow by between 1-3 MW at a time.  

The Inner Mongolian Information Hub is one of the largest hyperscale data centers on the planet. It spans an incredible 10.7 million square feet and provides services to China Telecom. This Hohhot hyperscale data center is in good company too, as there are several other huge data centers in the area. 

Other examples of enormous hyperscale data centers include the Hohhot Data Center, which covers 7.7 million square feet. Owned by China Mobile, this vast facility is also located in Hohhot, not far from the Inner Mongolian Information Hub. 

Nevada is also home to some colossal data centers. The Citadel Campus, which is owned by Switch, spans a huge 7.2 million square feet. This data center is particularly impressive as it’s entirely powered by renewable energy sources. It also has a guaranteed latency of 4.5 milliseconds (ms) to Silicon Valley.


Who are hyperscale data centers for? 

There are relatively few hyperscale facilities in the US – and the reason is because they are only suitable for the largest companies. Any business deploying less that 20 MW won’t need to think about hyperscale and can rely on more typical colocation facilities. 

Companies such as Google, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft, on the other hand, all use hyperscale data centers. One thing unites thes companies is that the briefest outage is business-critical. Usually, businesses using hyperscale data centers are those that sell technology management services. In other cases, these companies could be making a profit via the websites and apps being supported by the data center. 

Companies that require the use of hyperscale data centers tend to need unparalleled levels of reliability and security, because without their online services, they would immediately cease trading. Hyperscale data centers deliver this, in a way that even the largest and most complex businesses can depend on. 


Is hyperscale on the rise?

While the number of businesses requiring the use of a scalable data center is certainly on the rise, these dedicated large-scale facilities remain relatively few in number. 

As of the start of last year, there were just over 600 hyperscale data centers in operation. Of course, it’s true that the number of hyperscale data centers in the world will continue to rise in line with the data requirements of growing companies competing on the global stage. 

If you have questions about IT infrastructure and equipment, or you’re unsure about the next step for your business, we’re here to help. 

At TRG Datacenters, we build the best data center experiences. Our Houston Data Center is built for fault tolerance, meaning we can focus on providing the best experience for our customers. 

Is it time to find out more? Get in touch and a member of our team will get back to you with more information.