Groundbreaking for excellence in research

Data Center Group (DCG) realizes a sustainable data center for the expansion of the research location of the University of Mainz
News | 30.05.2023

With its more than 100 institutes and clinics, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is one of the largest and most diverse universities in Germany. The JGU is the only German university of its size to house almost all of its institutes on a campus close to the city center. On this campus, a new building for the computer center is to be constructed by the university itself.

Data Center Group will realize and hand over the new data center as general contractor including execution planning. With a team of architects, planners and specialists for IT infrastructures, the company is responsible for the conception, design and construction of the building. "As a Rhineland-Palatinate company, we are pleased to be able to contribute to the development of this renowned location and will hand over the new data center ready for use as early as the beginning of 2025," explains Ralf Siefen, founder and CEO of DCG.

The planned compact building, with a prominent location at the campus access, is to be realized as a valuable and modern structure that at the same time blends harmoniously into the existing complex. The building will also have a high-quality visual appearance thanks to a surrounding curtain wall and screen cladding for the external air-conditioning system.

The groundbreaking ceremony on May 30, 2023 for the new data center building at JGU is an important cornerstone for the further expansion of the research strength at the Mainz site, in which the state is investing a total of more than 380 million euros. Of this, around 29 million euros will be spent on the construction of the new state-of-the-art data center.

Milestone for cutting-edge research

In the future, the Data Center will not only house the university's IT infrastructure for its own academic operations and administrative tasks, but also the systems and services needed for the Rhineland-Palatinate Science Network and Rhineland-Palatinate Computing Alliance (RARP). In addition, the Data Center will contribute to the National High Performance Computing (NHR). In this NHR alliance, of which JGU has been a member since the end of 2022, university high-performance computing resources and competencies are bundled and made available to scientists at German universities at no cost. This includes the high-performance computers MOGON NHR South-West and MOGON II. Thus, the Data Center contributes to the expansion of research opportunities and strengthens the university's position in the field of high-performance computing.

Sustainable with certainty

"The data center is planned as an ecologically future-oriented building, which thus contributes to the energy turnaround. ", confirms Christian Tigges, Head of Major Projects at DCG. "Certified according to EN 50600, the standard for planning, construction and high-security operation of data centers, it meets the highest requirements for critical infrastructures in availability up to VK3 and security up to SK3."

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS), gas extinguishing system, emergency power generator and the corresponding security technology provide the appropriate protection. This means that digital applications and services remain continuously available for researchers, teachers and students. Furthermore, data protection is ensured by an appropriate access control system with lock function, intrusion alarm system and video surveillance.

"In the future, we will have space for 32 server cabinets, which are completely dedicated to the university's IT infrastructure. Another up to 112 server cabinets are available for the HPC area, of which up to 84 can be in operation at the same time. The new building is particularly important for us in order to be able to meet the increased requirements in the area of high-performance computing in the future and to be able to operate the applications for research, teaching, studying and administration of the university at a current technical security and availability standard. For this reason, the technical supply for the enterprise area was designed to be completely redundant in order to be able to quickly absorb downtimes," explains Carsten Allendörfer, technical manager ZDV at the University of Mainz.

For smooth operation, the servers must be protected from overheating and cooled continuously. For this purpose, an energy-saving cooling system with a closed water circuit is used, which is additionally prepared for the planned use of waste heat, so that additional resources can be conserved. Parts of the roof area will also be equipped with photovoltaics in order to keep the proportion of electricity purchased as low as possible.

Extensive roof greening will also serve to reduce the CO2 content and the ambient temperature in summer. In addition, attention was paid to the lowest possible surface sealing infiltration-capable fastening. In addition, the planning of the planting of the area was carried out in close coordination with the green and environmental office of the city of Mainz. With a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of ≤ 1.15, the data center is at the top of the energy-efficient data centers.

Ceremonial go-ahead for implementation

On May 30, JGU President Prof. Dr. Krausch and Chancellor Dr. Kreutz-Gers, together Clemens Hoch, Minister of Science and Health of Rhineland-Palatinate, and Nino Haase, Major of the City Mainz, symbolically gave the starting signal for the construction work with a joint groundbreaking ceremony. "We are proud to be a part of this project and to be able to contribute to the development of this promising research location," affirmed Tim Klein, project manager of DCG.

Facts and figures

  • Total area of the building: 1,870 m².
  • Construction costs: 29 million euros
  • PUE value: ≤ 1.15 (The key figure for the energy efficiency of data centers is the Power Usage Effectiveness: PUE. It determines how effectively the energy supplied to a data center is consumed. During design, care was taken to achieve the lowest possible value).
  • 32 server cabinets in the enterprise area and 112 server cabinets in the HPC area (of which a maximum of 84 are in operation at the same time)
  • Maximum IT load: 3,600 kW

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