Facebook Opens First Foreign Data Center At Edge Of Arctic Circle
June 13, 2013

Facebook Opens First Foreign Data Center At Edge Of Arctic Circle

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Facebook opened a new data center on Wednesday in Luleå, Sweden, a place that offers plenty of water and a cool climate as the social network seeks to lower its costs and improve its environmental friendliness.

The new data center is Facebook´s first in Europe, and is located about 600 miles north of Stockholm at the edge of Arctic Circle. It is the first to rely exclusively upon servers designed by the company itself.

While it may seem an odd place for a data center, Facebook says it has good reasons for picking LuleÃ¥. The city´s northern location means it rarely gets hot outside, and the “chilly Nordic air” can be used to cool the thousands of servers in the data center. Any excess heat that the servers produce can be used to warm the office.

Additionally, the facility is powered by locally-generated, 100 percent hydro-electric energy, which is so reliable Facebook has been able to reduce the number of backup generators by more than 70 percent, the company said. Sweden´s dense fiber optic network is another reason Facebook chose the Nordic nation to build its first foreign data center.

"As our systems come online for the first time, we are proud to say that this is likely to be one of the most efficient and sustainable data centers in the world," Facebook said in its announcement, adding that the data center is now handling live traffic from users throughout the world. The new facility is the result of Facebook's Open Compute Project, a two-year-old initiative in which the company created its own specifications for servers, and openly shared them with the rest of the world. Instead of purchasing servers directly from other suppliers, Facebook created more efficient designs that removed unnecessary hardware and software, and then paid original design manufacturers to build them.

“Our commitment to energy efficiency is also evident inside LuleÃ¥'s giant data halls,” Facebook said.

“Nearly all the technology in the facility, from the servers to the power distribution systems, is based on Open Compute Project designs. This Facebook-founded initiative encourages the development of "vanity-free" hardware designs that are highly efficient and leave out unnecessary bits of metal and plastic. These designs are then shared with the broader community, so anyone can use or improve them.”

The data center has a notable power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.07, meaning the building consumes 1.07 watts of power for each watt required by computing equipment.

Facebook said it would soon be adding a PUE monitor so people can see how the data center is performing on a real-time basis.

Facebook currently has data centers in Oregon, North Carolina, and now Sweden, and has plans to open a fourth in Iowa next year, which the company says will be “among the most advanced and energy efficient facilities of its kind.”

In addition to server designs, Facebook´s Open Compute Project has created and released designs for server racks, storage systems, motherboards, and interconnects.