eBay Unveils New Flagship Data Center

The new eBay data center in South Jordan, Utah, in the shadow of the Oquirrh Mountains.

How do you build a data center that will have $2,000 in transactions flowing through it every second?  That was the challenge for the eBay data center team in building the company’s new Topaz data center in South Jordan, Utah. The $287 million facility, which came online May 4, will be the flagship facility for eBay, hosting the eBay.com and Paypal.com web sites.

“We have built a fault tolerant Tier IV level data center that is 50 percent less expensive to operate than the average of all other data centers we lease today,” said Dean Nelson, eBay’s Senior Director of Global Data Center Strategy. “It is also 30 percent more efficient than the most efficient data center in our portfolio. At a designed PUE of 1.4, it lowers both our economical and ecological costs. We only consume the energy we need, when we need it.”

Dean has shared details and photos of the project – along with eBay’s high-spirited launch event – in a blog post at Data Center Pulse.

First of Four Phases
The first phase of the Topaz project is a 240,000 square foot building housing three 20,000 square foot data center halls – one for eBay Marketplace, one for PayPal.com, and a third hall for expansion space. The master plan for the site calls for four phases, which will allow eBay to consolidate leased data center space currently spread across three states. The facility has 7.2 megawatts of capacity in phase 1, with a 30 megawatt substation on site.

Here’s a look at some of the energy efficiency features built into the new facility:

  • eBay is using 400V power distribution, allowing it to eliminate an entire level of transformers and deliver 230V to the servers, saving 2 percent in power costs.
  • The data center is cooled using a water-side economizer system, which is supported by a 400,000 gallon cistern that collects rain water. eBay expects to use outside air to cool the data center for more than half the year.
  • Inside the data center, eBay will use in-row cooling units for close-coupled cooling, and a hot air containment system to isolate the hot and cold air within the server area.
  • eBay says it can support power densities of up to 30kw per rack using this design.

eBay anticipates gaining Gold-level certification for the Utah site under the LEED ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program for energy efficient buildings. Nelson said he expects to achieve a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.4.

Efficiency Meets Resiliency
“Now, I don’t want to go into the religious debate of who has the lowest PUE, but I do want to point one thing out,” Nelson writes. “In the business of on-line commerce, we do not have a choice but to build a highly available data center to support our customers. From my perspective, achieving a 1.4 PUE with a hard requirement to meet this level of redundancy is quite an accomplishment. The point is you can be resilient, efficient and cost effective if you set your mind to it from the beginning.”

The eBay team also knows how to throw a grand opening, converting the third data hall at the Topaz facility into “Club eBay” for an event featuring break dancers and a giant wall plug for “powering on” the facility. Here’s a look at the elegant setting, framed by overhead cable trays. See Dean Nelson’s blog post for the full story and more photos.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large 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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  1. eBay is incredible...NOT.

    Look what we have here...a web-site building a quarter Billion dollar Data Center, and yet, eBay still hasn't been able to work out the glitches in their site, or properly integrate the Paypal payment system. Mediocrity prevails everyday in this life...

  2. MickeyFinn

    Impressive facility, but will it reduce 'glitches'? Let's hope the design effort for the hardware included some rock-solid scalability plans, so they can focus on software issues... which is another hope.

  3. My guess is that Utah's low power cost is the main factor contributing to this facilities low operational costs.

  4. Mike Jump

    For those of us who thrive on the design/operations side of the house. Those who must maintain and improve on historical reliability and availability standards while advancing sustainability. Hats Off to eBay for setting a high bar. Topaz is a great example of what the data center engineering and operations community has been striving toward these past few years. Low PUE can be balanced with high availability and a responsible TCO. Congratulations to Dean, the eBay team, their engineers and constructors.

  5. Philip Cohen

    Is this the new data center that still cannot handle the extra load created by the insane dumping of all store items into core, to the detriment of many (all?) sellers and probably eBay itself? Good onya John, you've done it again ... Draft Media Release—Confidential It is with great sadness that “Noise” Donahoe (aka “Peter Principle”), eBay’s Chief Headless Turkey, announces the probable demise of eBay’s most ugly daughter, PayPal. PayPal is about to be stricken by a particularly virulent strain of Visa+CyberSource, accompanied by insurmountable financial institutions complications and merchant dissatisfaction. PayPal’s health may therefore be expected to deteriorate and, if ultimately not completely incapacitated, will most likely be eventually confined to what little there is by then left of the Donahoe-devastated eBay Marketplaces. There is no cure this condition, and the “eBafia Don” is particularly saddened by the inevitable presumption that it is unlikely that PayPal will be able to continue to underpin eBay’s bottom line in the future. A detailed examination of and prognosis for PayPal at http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=6504554 And, for anyone interested in eBay’s deviousness generally, and in particular eBay’s demonstrable and deliberate criminal facilitation of the rampant shill bidding fraud being perpetrated by many unscrupulous professional sellers on buyers, particularly on nominal-start auctions, an introduction thereto (along with some good PayPal horror stories thrown in for good measure) can be found at http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=6502877 A practical observation on the risks of stupidity was made by the German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord in “Truppenführung”, 1933: “I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!” Clearly, the Stanford-trained and Bain & Co-matured fool, “Noise” Donahoe, and his gaggle of gobbling sycophantic fellow headless turkeys fall into this last group, and should be “removed immediately”, before they can complete the total destruction of the eBay Marketplace—although I suspect that by now the poor patient has been mortally wounded by the head quack’s clearly insane and criminal policies and totally incompetent case management. eBay/PayPal/Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

  6. I'm with C7 on this one...more and more CTO's are looking to Idaho and Utah due to low power costs. Not to mention clean power with plenty of growth opportunity.

  7. Philip Cohen: Thanks for at least including the word "data center" prior to your off-topic rant. Not to worry - invoking German generals from the 1930s always makes one's arguments look completely rational and contemporary.

  8. Philip Cohen

    Any eBay sourced spin invites general comment on the overall efficiencies of eBay, Rich Miller. Unfortunately, you seem to have missed the whole point of my comment.

  9. eBay/Paypal is fast becoming an outdated platform. Both sites are incredibly slow, and at times, you're lucky if a page off the site will even pull. And when it does finally pull, it's after some wait. It must be all that state of the art MS DLL technology utilized. Haha! In addition, the eBay site is so full of glitches, that even eBay Customer Service reps are forced to acknowledge them due to them being so obvious and blatant: http://asiaproductsdirect.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-latest-chat-converstion-with-ebay.html It takes triple to quadruple the time to make an eBay listing compared to other sites like eCrater, Bonanzle, etc. And, the eBay/Paypal platform prohibits the maximization and potential the Internet could bring to e-commerce. eBay is no longer the place to find deals. A simple Google products search does much better... I mean please...50 cents to list an item for sale for 99 cents!! And then, another 12% from eBay and another 12%-15% from Paypal. Haha!! No wonder they call it feeBay. What a joke, and just like this data center a complete joke. Anyone associated with it should be considered moronic. This is NOT efficiency for a web-site. This is pure ARROGANT EXTRAVAGANCE as a result of improper and less than scrupulous business practices using the Internet and e-commerce. eBay may think they have the e-commerce around their finger, but from all indications, more and more people are turning to alternatives. I've seen it with sales from my own shop. I am proud to say I am a previous eBay customer, now if only I can do away with Paypal, everything would look really good. For myself as a seller, and buyers... Lastly, even though Mr.Cohen when off on tangents up above, his message rings loud and clear. eBay and this data center represents everything wrong with monopolies in real life and on the web. I predict within 5 years, eBay and this data center will both be like fossils in the Utah ground...