Popular Internet search engine Google is reportedly developing one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers in a bid to outstrip rivals Yahoo and Microsoft.

According to The Telegraph, Google is building a vast complex said to be the size of two football pitches with cooling towers four floors high in Oregon. The new Google "powerplant", which is known as Project 02, has already created hundreds of jobs.

The new Oregon centre will form just a part of Google’s global computing system, called the Googleplex. It will house two huge data centres and thousands of Google servers that will help power billions of search queries it handles daily as well as an expanding range of other services.

The clandestine expansion on the 30-acre site 80 miles east of Portland is thought to be part of an "arms race" as other online companies vie for Google’s crown. Google currently runs 450,000 servers worldwide, but aims to spend 814 million pounds to increase its capacity.

Meanwhile, Bill Gates Microsoft has announced it will spend 1.08 billion dollars next year and aims to quadruple its number of internet servers to 800,000 in 25 locations by 2011.

Microsoft and Yahoo have also toying with plans to build multi-billion-dollar data centres in the Pacific North West, which is home to cheap electricity from hydropower and existing data networks.

Analysts, according to the paper, are interpreting Google’s growing range of services as an attempt by the search engine to muscle in on territory historically dominated by its computer-related rivals.