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A consultative approach to sustainable colocation services

Image credit: Subzero Engineering

Subzero Engineering outlines how it helped its client atNorth to standardise its approach to HPC colocation with a scalable, energy efficient cold aisle containment (CAC) solution.

atNorth is a Nordic data centre services organisation based in Reykjavik, Iceland. It offers environmentally responsible, power-efficient, and cost-optimised data centre hosting facilities, with the capabilities to deliver high-performance computing (HPC) services.

By working with Subzero Engineering, a provider of data centre containment solutions, the company was able to standardise its approach to HPC colocation; using a scalable, energy efficient, and ultra-secure, fault-tolerant cold aisle containment (CAC) methodology to replicate its sustainability and performance capabilities across multiple sites.

The backdrop

atNorth provides environmentally sustainable, power-efficient and cost-optimised data centre hosting facilities. Its Tier III, redundant design and its ability to support rack densities ranging from 40kW – 100kW make it a good partner for organisations using high-performance computing (HPC) to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.

With operations in Stockholm, Sweden and Reykjavik, Iceland, the company’s mission is to offer more compute for a better world, leveraging innovative data centre designs, power efficiency, and intelligent clusters to support the disruptive technologies used by customers. This includes workloads that require High Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructure, such as simulations, scientific calculations, artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, and blockchain applications.

At its Icelandic Thor DC and Mjölnir DC colocation campuses, the company strives to push the boundaries of Nordic data centres – using 100% renewable energy resources from hydropower and geothermal sources to power their facilities, which are optimised for energy efficiency, maximum reliability and performance.

With this approach that incorporates Direct Free Air cooling and carbon-free energy, atNorth delivers a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating below 1.2 at its Tier III Mjölnir DC. A strategy that offers customers a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO), increased operational and energy efficiency, and a secure, scalable data centre platform to protect the long-term lifecycle requirements of their infrastructure deployments.

Meeting challenges

When designing its second 80MW, Mjölnir DC data centre campus in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland, atNorth was looking for a containment partner that was able to deliver to demanding timescales.

The company required a high-quality, robust, and secure containment solution that would offer the ability to standardise their design, while delivering repeatable performance, sustainability, and efficiency capabilities across multiple sites.

Further, due to its reputation for sustainable HPC and colocation, and for building long-term customer relationships, the company was looking to establish a new supply chain partner who could work with them as the company grew.

Proposing a solution

Working to meet the company’s requirements, Subzero Engineering engaged with Jóhann Þór Jónsson, atNorth’s Director Project Management and Business Development. Rather than offer a simple proposal containing a product specification and cost, the companies’ engineers provided consultative expertise from a remote location in the USA, offering valuable insight that would help to future-proof the data centre and meet growing customer demand.

Once a relationship was established, Subzero specified its Essential Plus+ product line, offering a vendor-neutral, quick-to-deploy, and flexible containment system. Available globally, the Essential Plus+ products would provide atNorth with a standardised containment architecture, which would accommodate any customers’ HPC rack, server, or storage requirement.

“Subzero’s response time was exceptional,” said Þór Jónsson. “They not only specified a cold aisle containment architecture complete with security doors and top roofs, but worked with us consultatively to engineer a robust, clean, and energy efficient system that would look visually impactful and fit with the site’s geothermal surroundings.”


The Essential Plus+ products met atNorth’s requirements for a customisable, robust and high-quality containment solution. Moreover, it would enable them to standardise and quickly scale across new sites, using a methodology that delivers increased security, performance, and sustainability. This is a pivotal approach, and has informed the design, construction and development of its third climate-positive data centre in Stockholm.

“Subzero Engineering has given us a standardised, repeatable, and physically secure containment system, which fits well with our own philosophy,” added Þór Jónsson.

“They have offered us a flexible containment solution, focused on both performance and efficiency, but which is easy to customise with the changing requirements of our intensive computing customers.”

He concluded, “As a business, we’re always focused on the long-term objectives of our customers, and we choose to work with companies whose values are aligned with ours. Subzero Engineering remained service-minded, agile, and worked to truly understand our business: providing a consultative, value-add and intricate data centre solution that meets our demands for performance and efficiency both now, and in the future.”

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