KDDI to build Asia's largest AI data centre

KDDI and a handful of partner companies have kicked off plans to build what they claim will be the largest AI data centre in Asia.

Mary Lennighan

June 4, 2024

2 Min Read

That's a bold claim, given the growth potential of this market and the infrastructure required to underpin it. Presumably the companies are basing their assertion on the size of the site – it's huge; the site currently houses a 1.27 million square metre LCD panel plant – and what's already out there today.

The companies in question, aside from the Japanese telecoms operator, are Supermicro, Sharp and Datasection. The new data centre will be built on the site of the former Sharp Sakai Plant in Osaka, Japan. Sharp started operations making LCD panels and thin film solar cells at the plant in late 2009, but last month, according to Nikkei Asia, its parent company Foxconn disclosed that the unprofitable plant would close by September.

Now we know what will become of it... but that's about all, at this stage. The four companies said they have agreed to start discussions on transforming the site into the aforementioned mega AI data centre, with a view to starting operations "as early as possible." But that's the closest we have to a timeline. There shared no details – which may well not yet exist – on footprint or investment levels.

The partners did disclose that the data centre will house an estimated 1,000 Nvidia GB200 NVL72 server racks that will underpin their AI computing platform.

Supermicro will provide a platform capable of managing heat generation efficiently; software company Datasection will support the operation of the data centre; and KDDI will support the build and running of the centre and its network infrastructure. All that is subject to the outcome of the talks though.

The companies said they expect the former Sharp plant will be able to provide sufficient electrical power and space to support the new data centre's electricity needs.

That's about all we have to go on at this stage, but we can doubtless expect further updates from the companies as the project progresses. Although publicly the firms are merely announcing the start of talks, the tone of their statement suggests they have made enough progress in identifying the partners themselves, their various roles, and their equipment supplier that we can probably assume the project will go ahead.

And with AI being top of the agenda for many, if not most, tech firms at present, this is unlikely to be the last announcement of its kind.

About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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