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

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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.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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15 Comments

  1. Facebook should be commended for keeping its data center as green as possible. If Facebook follows through it will go to show that the company has really put some serious thought into its brand image for the long term. Facebook won't sell out. Facebook is locating its data center in a socially and environmentally responsible way. I also suspect that the CEO's and board members won't mind visiting on occasion. This is exactly the kind of business that our region needs. One must feel that this is also what our economy needs. We need businesses that integrate people by taking into consideration what matters most to them while also realizing the garden needs compost. This is what we all had in mind when Manifest Destiny was in its infancy. Let's make it happen Oregon! Let's redefine what is really possible! Get it?! This is HUGE! Facebook Welcome Home!

  2. Terence L. Joeckel

    I highly recommend Hoffman Construction Company, Inc. of Portland, Oregon to build this facility. They have an excellent reputation for on time and on budget projects of every description and have extensive Hi-Tech experience with Intel and numerous others as well as data center experience in the Boardman, Oregon area.

  3. S.U.

    Is Facebook at risk of seeing the same rise and fall trend that myspace expirenced? Does FB have enough tricks up its sleeve to see ROI on a completed DC? Also looking at that picture, can datacenter architects stop building long datacenters with offices on one end? I know its nice on paper because its easy to bring one module online at a time, but the day to day operations are horribly inefficient-when you spend 20 min of your day just walking to the other end of a 250yard long DC to reset a server, replace a hard drive, check an alarm on a PDU, ect, ect. That 10min 1-way walk adds up to a lot of lost labor.

  4. Maureen Ford

    I hate Facebook. You have violated my privacy. You share info. I have been trying to unsubscribe but you won't let me. Every link to unsubscribe is immediately covered by you Privacy Policy. It's like being in the Hotel California. I want out and I want all records of me to be deleted!!!

  5. Such a hugh building and no space vor PV or a Turbine? Ever heard of the story from Munsterland in Germany? They make money with it, even if this wasn't the primary intention: http://www.sunnyportal.com/Templates/PublicPage.aspx?page=e1ddda21-f240-44af-9af5-08c8aa4fc630 Take this as an examble. Much more in the world has followed.