eBay Unveils New Flagship Data Center

eBay has opened its new "Topaz" data center in Utah. The $287 million facility will power $2,000 a second in transactions for the the eBay marketplace and PayPal.com payment processing service. eBay's Dean Nelson provides commentary and photos.

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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