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GAINESVILLE, VA-A San Jose company has its eye on this DC suburb for what may be the world’s largest data center complex. US Data Port Inc. wants to build a $1.4-billion campus with up to 2.5 million sf of room for telecommunications switching, Web hosting and data processing facilities.

The company would build it over five years on Virginia Gateway, a 1,200-acre tract in Prince William County owned by Fairfax-based Peterson Cos., a local developer. It would include 10 to 20 buildings. US Data Port has tenants lined up for part of the space and plans to build other space speculatively.

“When you look at the convergence of Internet traffic on a global scale, you see these three markets, Silicon Valley, Northern Virginia and New York, represent far and above an aggregation of traffic,” says Lewis Shadle, senior vice president of business development.”About 55% of the Internet’s traffic goes through Northern Virginia.”

The massive facility is designed to do on a campus-scale what colocation facilities do in a single building–-link several different companies’ Internet and telecommunications equipment together.

The campus would be powered by a 250-megawatt natural-gas-fired generator, which is a combined-cycle facility that will chill water used to cool the massive amount of computer equipment. It would be wired with fiber-optic cables that can carry more than a terabit of broadband data. It needs a generator because data centers consume massive amounts of power–-100 to 150 watts per sf.

“That is becoming a very challenging issue” for power companies,” Shadle says. “It’s becoming a problem here in Northern Virginia.”Calpine c*Power, a California energy company, will build the generator.

Security is another major concern.”When you put this many data centers together, it creates a new threat,” he says. “You could imagine a targeted assault.” Precautions include perimeter fencing, foot patrols, electronic detection equipment and other methods based on military standards.Plans call for up to 3.75 million sf of space in one and two-story buildings, but Shadle says some capacity won’t be used. Construction is expected to begin in the spring.

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