Facebook Building its Own Data Center in Oregon

After having rented out data center space in Silicon Valley and elsewhere for years, Facebook is now building its own data center in scenic Prineville, located in central Oregon. It’s a symbolic step for the company, which started out on an $80/month shared server just under six years ago.

Facebook has been working to drive down costs associated with hosting, including through the development of various back-end software programs. Combined with the growth of its advertising business, this move should help Facebook continue to achieve operating profitability.

The data center is Facebook’s first solely owned and operated one, and like those in the region belonging to Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other tech companies it will benefit from cheap and reliable power coming from dams on the Columbia River, as well massive tax breaks and the high-desert eastern Oregon climate. More on the data center’s technology, from the company blog post today:

  • Evaporative cooling system: This system evaporates water to cool the incoming air, as opposed to traditional chiller systems that require more energy intensive equipment. This process is highly energy efficient and minimizes water consumption by using outside air.
  • Airside economizer: The facility will be cooled by simply bringing in colder air from the outside. This feature will operate for between 60 percent and 70 percent of the year. The remainder of the year requires the use of the evaporative cooling system to meet temperature and humidity requirements.
  • Re-use of server heat: A portion of the excess heat created by the computer servers will be captured and used to heat office space in the facility during the colder months.
  • Proprietary Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) technology: All data centers must have an uninterruptible power supply to continuously provide power to servers. The Prineville data center will use a new, patent-pending UPS system that reduces electricity usage by as much as 12 percent.

Prineville is located in Crook County, which had 17.4 percent unemployment in November, as The Oregonian covers — it has been heavily impacted by timber industry troubles due to the falling housing market and stricter environmental regulations. The new center will create 200 short-term construction jobs and 35 jobs once the center is completed. That’s not much for the area, but certainly better than nothing.

And, for Facebook users, the center will allow new computing and storage capacity, meaning a faster and more reliable user experience.