UPDATED 19:02 EDT / MARCH 11 2024


Alphabet spinoff SIP launches new venture to build battery-supported data centers

Alphabet Inc. spinoff Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners today launched a new venture, Verrus, that will build data centers optimized for sustainability.

SIP emerged in 2019 from an Alphabet smart city project of the same name. The company is pursuing multiple infrastructure projects across areas such as recycling, telecommunications and power delivery. It also has a subsidiary that plans to build roads for autonomous vehicles.

Verrus, SIP’s newest venture, is the fruit of a multiyear development effort. It plans to build a network of battery-supported data centers for hosting artificial intelligence models and other workloads. According to the company, its facilities are set to be based on a design that will allow them to “provide resilience and flexibility to the grid — becoming assets to their communities rather than constant, inflexible drains.”

Some enterprise applications have to run around the clock, while the others only activate at set intervals. Verrus plan is to host these two workload types in separate data center sections. With such an arrangement, servers hosting applications that only have to run occasionally can activate at the times when the impact to the electrical grid is minimized.

Verrus will use an internally developed software platform to manage customer workloads and power usage. The system can “align flexible batch workloads with low-carbon supply availability, minimizing emissions,” the company detailed.

Data centers typically rely on diesel generators to ensure the availability of backup power in the event of an outage. Verrus’ facilities, in contrast, will use batteries for that task. “By strategically shifting flexible workloads and leveraging the storage capacity of its batteries, Verrus facilities can avoid overwhelming grids when supply runs tight,” the company detailed. 

For added measure, power will be shared between each data center’s server halls to minimize energy waste. If one of the halls receives more electricity than it requires, the excess energy can be sent to other sections of the facility.

SIP cofounder and co-Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Winer told TechCrunch that the company is exploring data center projects in Arizona, California and Massachusetts. Verrus’ planned data center network has reportedly already drawn interest from several potential customers, including multiple hyperscalers. Winer detailed that the hyperscaler market, which mainly comprises major cloud providers, could become one of the company’s “target segments when seeking investment.” SIP has to date raised $800 million in funding from Alphabet, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and investment firm StepStone Group LP.

Image: Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners

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