A server tray in Facebook's Forest City, North Carolina, data center, 2010 Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images
A server tray in Facebook's Forest City, North Carolina, data center, 2010

Facebook to Build $1B Data Center in Virginia: Report

Company plans 1 million square feet in Phase I; location is 100 miles from Marea cable landing station

The next Facebook data center is going to be built in Richmond, Virginia, in the same technology park that houses a massive QTS data center inside a former Qimonda processor plant, Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, citing multiple anonymous sources.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to announce the $1 billion Facebook project, codenamed “Project Echo,” in the White Oak Technology Park Thursday morning, the report said.

The first of multiple construction phases the social networking giant is planning on the 328-acre site will be 1 million square feet. Three more buildings, totaling 1.5 million square feet, can be added in future phases, according to planning documents reviewed by Times-Dispatch.

Earlier this year, Henrico County, which includes Richmond, introduced tax breaks on computers and other data center gear to attract data center construction, the report said, cutting the tax rate by 87 percent, from $3.50 per $100 of assessed value to 40 cents.

This has been a big year for Facebook in terms of data center construction. The company announced plans to build a data center in Nebraska and Ohio, as well as overseas, in Denmark. It also filed paperwork to expand its Texas data center campus and kicked off a data center expansion project in Iowa.

Richmond is not a hot data center market, but it’s about 130 miles south of Ashburn, the epicenter of the Northern Virginia data center market – the largest and hottest in the world – where Facebook leases data center space from DuPont Fabros Technology, now owned by Digital Realty Trust. (Those leases, which together represent one-fifth of DuPont’s annual revenue, are due to expire over the next four years, and all the new data center capacity Facebook is bringing online on its own makes the social network less likely to renew.)

Perhaps more importantly, Richmond is about 100 miles northeast of Virginia Beach, the place where Marea, a new US-Europe submarine cable owned by Facebook, Microsoft, and Telxius, lands. Its ability to transmit up to 160 terabits per second makes 4,000-mile Marea the highest-capacity cable to cross the Atlantic. Work to lay the cable -- whose other end lands in Bilbao, Spain -- was completed last month.

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