It's Official: Facebook is Oregon's Company X

Facebook's first company-built data center will be in Prineville, Oregon, the company confirmed today. Facebook says the 147,000 square foot Prineville data center will be designed to LEED Gold standards and is expected to have a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.15.

An architectural rendering of the new Facebook data center planned for Prineville, Oregon.

An architectural rendering of the new Facebook data center planned for Prineville, Oregon.

Facebook's first company-built data center will be in Prineville, Oregon, the company confirmed today. The new facility will be among the most energy efficient in the industry, Facebook said, and will provide the social network with headroom for its fast-growing server and storage infrastructure.

As we noted yesterday (Facebook to Build Its Own Data Centers), the fast-growing social network has previously leased server space from wholesale data center providers, but has grown to the point where the economics favor a shift to a custom-built infrastructure.

LEED Gold, PUE of 1.15
Facebook says the 147,000 square foot Prineville data center will be designed to LEED Gold standards and is expected to have a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.15.

“After a rigorous review process of sites across the West Coast, Facebook concluded that Prineville offered the best package of resources – including a suitable climate for environmental cooling, renewable power resources, available land, talented regional workforce and supportive business environment,” said Tom Furlong, Director of Site Operations for Facebook.

Facebook also left open the possibility that it will build more than one data center in Prineville. "Additional construction phases may be possible in the future, depending on business needs," according to a press release issued by the state of Oregon.

A Long Way from a Single Server
Facebook’s extraordinary growth has forced the company to continually invest in its infrastructure.

"We have come a long way from our roots in a Harvard dorm room, when Facebook was only available at some colleges and run on a single server," said Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook's vice president of technical operations, in a blog post. "When Facebook first began with a small group of people using it and no photos or videos to display, the entire service could run on a single server.

"Now with more than 350 million people worldwide and our service and business continuing to grow, we must constantly scale our technical infrastructure to meet the demand and deliver you a fast, reliable experience," said Heiliger. "An important step along the way is to build a custom data center so that we can design it to meet our unique needs."

The social network has previously expanded by leasing space from “wholesale” data center landlords,including Digital Realty Trust, DuPont Fabros Technologies and Fortune Data Centers.

More Cost, But More Customization
Other huge Internet companies that build their own data centers include Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay and Oracle. This typically requires a larger up-front investment in construction and equipment, but allows greater customization of power and cooling infrastructure.

The Prineville data center will use evaporative cooling instead of a chiller system, continuing a trend towards chiller-less data centers and water conservation. "This process is highly energy efficient and minimizes water consumption by using outside air," said Heiliger.

The facility will also re-use excess heat expelled by servers, which will help heat office space in the building, a strategy also being implemented by Telehouse and IBM.

Novel UPS Design
The new design foregoes traditional uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and power distribution units (PDUs) and adds a 12 volt battery to each server power supply. This approach was pioneered by Google, which last year revealed a custom server that integrates a 12 volt battery, which the company cited this design as a key factor in the exceptional energy efficiency data for its data centers.

Facebook did not say how much it expected to spend on the project, which is expected to create more than 200 jobs during its 12-month construction phase, and will employ at least 35 full-time workers and dozens more part-time and contract employees. Those jobs are welcomed by Oregon officials.

Excitement in Prineville
“This is great news for Prineville and really the entire state,” said Gov. Ted Kulongoski. “The stable, family-wage jobs and economic stimulus they will provide to this area during construction are a bright spot as this nation and this state climb out of this recession.”

“I thank Facebook for choosing Oregon and am hopeful this decision will act as a big “open for business sign” for other companies in this quickly growing field,” said Kulongoski. “This is a great example of how the public and private sector work together to create economic opportunity for Oregon communities.”

Here's a look at some of our past coverage of the growth of Facebook's infrastructure:

A sketch of the entrance of the new Facebook data center in Prineville, Oregon.

A sketch of the entrance of the new Facebook data center in Prineville, Oregon.

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