Sponsored by Oregon Business

Inside Facebook's Prineville data center

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Thursday, December 01, 2011

Web giants like Google and Amazon are notoriously secretive about what goes on inside of their data centers. Meanwhile, Facebook "open sourced" the designs for its Prineville data center and its custom-built servers. So just what does go on inside of those mysterious computing facilities? Wired decided to find out.

Facebook built its data center in Prineville because it’s on the high desert. Patchett calls it “the Tibet of North America.” The town sits on a plateau about 2,800 feet above sea level, in the “rain shadow” of the Cascade Mountains, so the air is both cool and dry. Rather than use power-hungry water chillers to cool its servers, Patchett and company can pull the outside air into the facility and condition it as needed. If the air is too cold for the servers, they can heat it up — using hot air that has already come off the servers themselves — and if the outside air is too hot, they can cool it down with evaporated water.
In the summer, Prineville temperatures may reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but then they drop back down to the 40s in the evenings. Eric Klann, Prineville’s city engineer, whose family goes back six generations in central Oregon, says Facebook treats its data center much like the locals treat their homes. “Us country hicks have been doing this a long time,” says Klann, with tongue in cheek. “You open up your windows at night and shut them during the day.”
The added twist is that Facebook can also cool the air during those hot summer days.
All this is done in the data center’s penthouse — a space the size of an aircraft carrier, split into seven separate rooms. One room filters the air. Another mixes in hot air pumped up from the server room below. A third cools the air with atomized water. And so on. With the spinning fans and the neverending rush of air, the penthouse is vaguely reminiscent of the room with the “fizzy lifting drinks” in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, where Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe float to the ceiling of Wonka’s funhouse. It’s an analogy Patchett is only too happy to encourage.

Read more from Wired.




Steve M
0 #1 Facebook's Green Data CenterSteve M 2011-12-02 15:43:33
Sounds like Facebook has put a lot of money into building a state-of-the-ar t data center that is easy on the environment. Glad to see they're putting their profits to good use and stimulating the Oregon economy at the same time. At Reliant IT in Salem, Oregon we built our data center right on the backbone of the internet so our clients get super fast processing for their business apps. www.reliantit.us.com
Quote | Report to administrator
0 #2 Data Centerhenry 2011-12-09 18:51:42
I read that the Carolina grading company, Wayne Bros., were contracted for the site development of the new Facebook Data Center. They had a challenging time due to the aggressive project schedule and adverse weather conditions.
Quote | Report to administrator

More Articles

Photo Log: Inside Portland Razor Co.

The Latest
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

2-sheets-IMG 4897


Make the business case, governor

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 05, 2015
aoikatebrownthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Gov. Kate Brown delivered the keynote speech at the Associated Oregon Industries annual policy forum yesterday.  Speaking to a Republican-aligned audience of about 100 business and public policy leaders, the governor was out of her comfort zone.


Planter's Punch

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Molly Rogers believes she has found the solution to excessively syrupy cocktail mixes. She first just needs people to understand her product isn’t foliage.


Roll On

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The myth of a freight-dependent economy.


Have a baby and keep a job? It won’t be easy in Portland

The Latest
Friday, October 02, 2015
100115kimblogthumbBY KIM MOORE

Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.


Hot Topics/Cool Talks: Tinker, Tailor, Portland Maker

The Latest
Friday, November 20, 2015



The God complex

Linda Baker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
093015-zydellren-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02