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Singapore awards four data centre operators with 80MW of new capacity

Written by Mon 17 Jul 2023

An AirTrunk-Bytedance consortium, Equinix, GDS, and Microsoft have won the right to develop new data centre projects in Singapore, as the country prepares to end a four-year moratorium.

Following more than 20 bids, the four data centre operators have been provisionally awarded 80MW of capacity for the new facilities.

“We aim to allocate more capacity in the next 12 to 18 months to advance our interest as an innovative, sustainable, global digital hub,” said The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in a statement.

The four data centre operators were chosen, as they were best able to strengthen Singapore’s position as a regional hub.

“We remain committed to the sustainable growth of the data centre sector, and will develop a roadmap together with the industry towards the development of green data centres with lower carbon emissions in support of Singapore’s net-zero targets,” added the state agencies.

The EBD and IMDA highlighted four key highlights that influenced their decision:

  • Sustainability: Delivering best-in-class energy efficient performance through comprehensive adoption of liquid cooling and energy efficient core-IT equipment. This includes meeting Green Mark DC Platinum Certification.
  • Connectivity: Significantly expanding international connectivity, including through facilitating an increase in submarine cable capacity and setting up new carrier neutral exchanges.
  • Computing: Anchoring key compute capacities, including AI/ML compute, and High-Performance Compute in Singapore, while linking with offshore data centres to complement Singapore’s capacity.
  • Economy: Significant economic commitments to Singapore beyond the direct data centre investments.

With rapid advancements in Generative AI, the EDB and IMDA will work with the industry to release more capacity and address connectivity infrastructure to support a ‘competitive AI ecosystem.

Singapore relaxes its data centre moratorium

Since 2019, Singapore enforced a moratorium on new data centre developments. This was enforced, as the land-scarse country had 60 data centres with a capacity of 357MW.

This was slightly relaxed in July 2022 when the EDB and IMDA announced a pilot scheme known as Data Centre – Call for Application (DC-CFA). 

The DC-CFA was introduced to facilitate the sustainable building of new data centre capacity where companies could bid for permission to develop new facilities.

The pilot received strong support within the industry, and the proposals from each successful company were reported to illustrate the applicants’ commitment in growing the data centre industry in a sustainable manner.

“The proposals illustrate the continued confidence … and commitment to innovatively grow the data centre industry in a sustainable manner and strengthen Singapore’s value proposition as a key technology hub for the region,” said the EDB and IMDA.

The EDB and IMDA hope that the continuation of the pilot will advance Singapore’s interest as an innovative, sustainable, and global digital hub.

Equinix currently operates five facilities in Singapore, with its most recent SG5 data centre opening in 2021 – one of the last to be opened following the enforced moratorium in 2019. 

This month, Equinix in collaboration with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund announced a new 36MW data centre in Tokyo, Japan.

Digital Realty were rumoured to be interested in the DC-CFA pilot, but reportedly missed out. They currently have three data centres in Singapore, and have recently announced their first NVIDIA DGX H100-ready data centre in Japan.

In 2020, AirTrunk opened a 78+MW facility in Singapore. Meanwhile, Microsoft built their first Singapore data centre in 2014 and its second at the end of 2021.

Following approval as part of the DC-CFA pilot, GDS will build its first data centre in Singapore.

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Written by Mon 17 Jul 2023

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