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Prineville, Ore., Pop. 10,000, is Facebook's new friend

o Patrick Thibodeau
22.01.2010 kl 14:39 |

Facebook announced plans to build a massive data center in Prineville, Ore., a small city on the center of the state.


Facebook Inc. has selected Prineville, Ore., as the home for its new data center. Among its attractions are good places for fishing and camping, as well as dry, cool air that's conducive to running large data center operations.

The rural community, with a population of about 10,000 located in the center of the state, depends largely on the production of forest-based products. Prineville was hit hard by the recession, as its unemployment rate hit 20% last year, said Steve Forrester, Prineville's city manager.

Facebook said it will hire 35 fulltime employees to work at the 147,000 square foot facility, which was announced Thursday. It will also create some 200 construction jobs, and ongoing jobs for contractors hired to maintain the facility.

Facebook had been leasing data center space on the East and West coasts. The Prineville facility will be its first custom built data center. Facebook isn't saying how many servers it will install there, but it's a safe bet that the fast growing Palo Alto, Calif.-based company will need an enormous IT operation that incorporates energy saving approaches.

Prinevill's location should help in the energy savings efforts.

The city is located on a plateau at an elevation of 2,860 feet, and has a climate that is conducive to cooling. It's dry, with only 10 to 12 inches of rain a year, said Forrester, and there are large temperature swings. During the summer it may reach 90 degrees at midday but at night it may fall to 45 degrees."That really lends a big factor into the cost of the operation," said Forrester.

The climate will allow Facebook to use its airside economizer, a systems that brings in outside air to cool systems. In Prineville, the economize can be used during 60% to 70% of the year, said Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations at Facebook, in a blog post. Facebook also plans to reuse server heat for its offices, and says it has a patent-pending UPS system that it claims can help reduce power consumption.

Facebook claims that the new data center will be among the most efficient in the world, with an exceptionally low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric. PUE is the ratio of total facility power, including the cooling systems, UPS, lighting, to IT equipment power, the load associated with all IT equipment, including servers and storage.

A PUE rating of 2.0 means that for every watt of IT power, another watt is used by the facility. Facebook is claiming that it can get PUE ratio of 1.15. Cloud providers have been nearing that number; Microsoft, for instance, recently said a data center in Dublin, Ireland, had a PUE of 1.25.

An Oregon newspaper, the Bend Bulletin, reported that according to county records , the facility will cost about $188 million. Work on the project is expected to be completed next year.

The Pacific Northwest is proving popular with other cloud data center providers because of relatively low energy cost. Google, for instance, has built a major facility in Dalles, Ore., near the Columbia River and its hydroelectric facilities.

Facebook's Prineville Data Center page is here.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld . Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov , send e-mail to or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed? .

Keywords: Internet  Hardware Systems  IT Management  
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