What Is a Hyperscale Data Center? Overview and Comparisons

Posted by Duke Robertson on March 27, 2023

Data centers have many common features — power, cooling, racks and cabinets, and of course, IT equipment — but they come in many different shapes and sizes. One company may have a variety of data centers, from a primary facility that supports enterprise applications to data closets and self-contained cabinets in remote locations.

Today, when people think of data centers, they often picture row upon row of cabinets filled with equipment. They think of companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook, with hundreds of thousands of servers supporting millions of users.

These companies operate the so-called “hyperscale” data centers. As the name suggests, hyperscale data centers are large, far exceeding the size of a more typical facility. But size isn’t the only thing distinguishing a hyperscale data center from its more modest counterparts.

What Is a Hyperscale Data Center?

Hyperscale data centers are enormous facilities built to accommodate vast data processing and storage needs. They're responsible for massive on-demand computing applications like cloud computing platforms, streaming services, social networks, and more. Like traditional data centers, they provide network, compute, and storage infrastructure, but at a massive scale. Although there’s no codified threshold, hyperscale data centers often exceed one million square feet and hold tens of thousands of servers, switches, server racks, and other networking and storage hardware. Many are even larger, however. The largest data center in the world — China Telecom’s Inner Mongolian Information Hub in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China — spans 10.7 million square feet.

Additionally, hyperscale data centers are incredibly power-hungry. They can consume over 100MW of power. That’s equal to the power consumed by roughly 70,000 US homes. As technology evolves, power consumption needs only grows. Hyperscalers are increasingly exploring alternative power generation and cooling techniques to meet the increase in demand while reducing the strain on the power grid and promoting sustainability.

Contact Data Center Experts

The “scale” also refers to the ability to add compute and storage capacity rapidly. The IT infrastructure is designed to scale horizontally to deliver the performance, throughput, and availability to meet ever-increasing demand.

Hyperscale data centers also optimize power and cooling efficiency. While enterprise data centers typically have a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.67-1.8, Google’s data centers have a PUE of 1.1. A PUE 1.0 represents perfect effectiveness, with all power going to the IT equipment.

Operational efficiency is also maximized. Data center design is more nuanced in hyperscale facilities than in traditional ones. Everything from racks and power systems to servers and storage is standardized to enable rapid deployment and simplified maintenance. Because performance is gained through horizontal scalability, stripped-down equipment is used to reduce hardware costs.

How Many Hyperscale Data Centers Are There?

In 2017, Synergy Research estimated that there were 24 companies operating 320 hyperscale data centers worldwide. That number is growing rapidly. The research firm reports that there were 728 in operation at the end of 2021, with at least 300 more planned.

The number of hyperscale data centers should exceed 1,000 by the end of 2024 and 1,200 by the end of 2026. Although they comprise less than 10 percent of the data center market, hyperscale data centers process more than half of the world’s data, according to Cisco.

Enterprise vs. Hyperscale Data Center

Enterprise data centers are more modest in size, with as few as ten racks or cabinets. They are owned and operated by one company to support its IT workloads and are typically located within the company’s headquarters facility.

Experts have been predicting the demise of the enterprise data center for many years. In his 2018 article “The Data Center Is Dead,” Gartner Research VP David Cappuccio said that 80 percent of enterprise data centers would shut down by 2025. He proposed that new types of data centers and technologies, such as colocation facilities, edge data centers, SaaS offerings, and IoT, would be able to replace the benefits offered by traditional enterprise data centers.

However, a recent Uptime Institute survey found that about half of all workloads are still hosted in enterprise data centers. Not all workloads can be migrated to new types of data centers or serviced by new technologies. Companies still operate their own data centers to maintain full control over their infrastructure to meet security, privacy, and regulatory requirements.

Colocation vs. Hyperscale Data Center

Technically speaking, colocation data centers and hyperscale data centers can be one and the same. Size is what differentiates hyperscale facilities from other types of data centers. Hyperscale data centers offer massive scale and size. Application is what differentiates colocation facilities from other types of data centers. Colocation providers “rent” space, power, cooling, network connectivity, and other services to customers who bring their own IT equipment. One facility can support hundreds or even thousands of customers.

An example of a hyperscale colocation data center is the Switch Citadel Campus in Reno, NV. It offers over 7 million square feet of colocation data center space and up to 650 megawatts (MW) of power.


Enconnex has a long history of providing solutions and services to hyperscale customers. We built many of our products from the custom requests of some of the biggest names in technology. Whatever the scale of your data center, our expertise, experience, and comprehensive product line can help you maximize efficiency, manageability, and reliability. Browse our selection of data center products and IT equipment for sale and get in touch to see how we can help.

Explore Data Center Solutions

Posted by Duke Robertson on March 27, 2023

Duke is the Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Enconnex. He brings over 25 years of experience in a wide range of disciplines including product management, design, manufacturing, and development. Previously, Duke was at Chatsworth Products where he spent 14 years managing all products for cabinets, communication infrastructure, and containment

Learn more about Enconnex

Get to know Enconnex with a customized fit-out