FDC picks up contract for Macquarie’s $350m Sydney data centre

Supplied Editorial Macquarie's new $350m IC3 Super West data centre

Macquarie’s new $350m IC3 Super West data centre.

Australia has taken another leap in capitalising on the artificial intelligence boom, with Macquarie Technology Group starting construction on a new $350m data centre in Sydney.

Data centres are the backbone of AI models, which the Albanese government forecasts will inject up to $600bn a year into the national economy by the end of the decade.

The new data centre, IC3 Super West, is being built out of Macquarie’s Data Centre Campus in Macquarie Park, as a wave of data centre projects looking to capitalise on the AI revolution get under way.

IC3 Super West will be a dedicated AI and cloud data centre, powering high-computing AI workloads for the likes of government and private customers, Macquarie said.

FDC Construction has picked up the main building contract.

The centre is part of a highly secure new facility that is responsible for conducting the AI-powered applications of a number of government agencies.

At any one time, there can be up to 100 engineers operating and managing the centres, many of whom are required to have security clearances to work on government projects.

Macquarie has 200 engineers with a security clearance in Australia.

The campus is also home to a dedicated cyber security team, with some companies have their own security on site.

Macquarie Data Centres group executive David Hirst said his company was one of the few that was able to develop and operate data centres in Australia.

“There are few companies out there that can actually run and maintain those environments to strict service level agreements and partner properly with customers and understand their technical needs. It’s not just a property play,” he said.

“A modern data centre is more than just electrical engineers and mechanical engineers; there is a significant amount of IT systems, you are a construction site, you’re dealing with high-voltage power.”

The new data centre will be the largest at the new campus, with IC3 Super West comprising more than 11,700sq m of data hall space and have a total of 45 megawatts of IT load.

The campus’s total IT load is 63 megawatts, including two other data centres.

AI-specific complexes can cost significantly more than regular data centres, requiring up to 10 times the density as well as both liquid and air-cooling systems.

Mr Hirst said the recent demand for AI computing had significantly increased demand for its data centres. The company’s 10-year plan includes major land acquisitions to build and operate data centres for the AI era.

“The widespread adoption of AI is fuelling a new wave of next-generation AI infrastructure and GPUs from tech giants such as Dell and Nvidia,” he said. “These highly dense computer technologies can only live in purpose-built data centres that meet their significant power and cooling requirements. IC3 Super West is being built to cater to this rising demand here in Australia.”

Construction on the new major data centres kicks off as the industry’s growth has been limited by a number of factors and construction blowouts.

Growth of the local data centre market isn’t without issue. The Australian last month reported that experts were touting Melbourne and Perth as new data centre capitals, as land constraints limited the supply of new sites. Similarly, Hong Kong and Singapore were facing being potentially overtaken by Johor, in Malaysia, and Batam, in Indonesia, as both cities face supply issues.

FDC founder Ben Cottle said his company had strategically placed itself in the rapid expansion of data centres.

“With the rapid adoption of AI resulting in increased demand for data centres, FDC’s team of experts continue to be at the forefront of delivering scalable, energy-efficient facilities like IC3 Super West that can support the ever-evolving demands of Macquarie Data Centres’ customers,” he said.