World’s largest data center to be built in Arctic Circle

Key Points
  • Data center is predicted to draw on a record amount of power.
  • The facility is being developed by a US/Norwegian joint venture.
  • Company claims site will be a "fortress for data".
An artist impression of the proposed Kolos data center
Image copyright KOLOS

A small town in the remote north of the Arctic Circle is set to be home to the world's largest data center.

The Kolos facility is being developed by a US-Norwegian partnership, also called Kolos, who say the site will eventually draw on a record-setting 1000 megawatts of power.

On their website, Kolos claim Ballangen's cold climate and access to hydropower will help trim energy costs by as much as 60 percent.

The company added that Kolos will be a "fortress for data".

"The Kolos site is surrounded by water and hills, providing a natural moat to protect against any physical risks," it claimed.

The firm said the center will directly create 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs and support 10,000 to 15,000 jobs in the area.

Scandinavia is no stranger to large data centers with Facebook's own version located about 240 miles away in Sweden.

A computing power revolution

Computers are thought to be on the cusp of a revolution as developers look toward the introduction of quantum power.

One attraction of a quantum powered computer is its ability to simultaneously calculate a number of different possibilities.

Peter Smith, Professor of Optoelectronics, University of Southampton told CNBC Tuesday that Google could this year announce a computer that supersedes current technology.

"So what does it mean for business? Well, it's huge. You give people much more computing power, then that affects finance, it affects business, it affects security, so you can use these things for example to crack encryption.

"You imagine a world in which a quantum computer can break much of what we're currently doing for security, across the internet, across finance," Smith added.

Smith said that although it could be viewed as a risk, quantum technology can also offer unparalleled levels of security.

"But then, that also raises the question of how will governments, how will people feel about totally secure communication that nobody else could break into," he added.

Smith said data centers would likely be key to quantum technology development as users looked to access the new computer power via the cloud.