A Facebook data center outside of Atlanta is said to be in the works.
The social network giant is eyeing a site in Stanton Springs, a master-planned development east of the city, near a Shire biotech manufacturing plant, according to local news reports that cited anonymous sources.
The news comes after a year that saw more Facebook data center expansion announcements than any prior year, indicating that the company is expecting its demand for computing power to skyrocket over the next several years. Facebook’s user base continues growing (it was at more than 2 billion toward the end of 2017); data-hungry media like video and 360-degree content are playing a bigger and bigger role on its platform; and compute-heavy AI algorithms are doing more and more work on the backend.
The planned Facebook data center campus in the Atlanta metro would be more than 400 acres, Atlanta Business Chronicle reported. Planning papers for the project were filed by Morning Hornet LLC, an entity working on behalf of Facebook, and local development officials were expected to vote on issuing a bond in relation to the project.
The company is expected to invest $1 billion at the start of the project and about $20 billion over the following two decades, the report said, citing an anonymous source.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirmed the report, also citing an anonymous source.
In 2017, Facebook announced multiple data center construction projects in new locations, including Odense, Denmark; Papillion, Nebraska; New Albany, Ohio; and Henrico, Virginia. That year, it also launched its first Fort Worth, Texas, data center.
Expansion projects at existing data center campuses announced last year include Prineville, Oregon; Altoona, Iowa; Clonee, Ireland; and Los Lunas, New Mexico.
Atlanta is an important interconnection hub for networks in the southern US and one of the fastest-growing data center colocation markets in the country. In its 2017 mid-year wholesale data center market report, commercial real estate firm CBRE said new providers that had entered the Atlanta market recently would add a significant amount of new wholesale capacity.
The new entrants include Switch, DataBank, Ascent, and CyrusOne,
In its mid-year 2017 report, CBRE competitor Jones Lang LaSalle said, “Atlanta has historically been an underserved data center market, but operators and users are turning their sights toward the city to anchor their presence in the Southeast.”
Companies are drawn to the Atlanta metro because of relatively low cost of land, power, and living. Some Fortune 500 companies have also been moving IT operations from places like California and the Northeast to reduce operating costs, Tim Huffman, senior VP and data center lead at CBRE, told the Chronicle.