Facebook's New Data Center Leverages the Arctic's Chill
Facebook is setting up a 30,000-square- meter data center in northeastern Sweden, the social network’s first data center built outside the U.S. Facebook has been lured to Lapland by the climate. At 65° 36′ 0″ N, the city of Lulea sits just outside the Arctic circle, where a hot summer day might hit a balmy 66° F. Temperatures are close to freezing for much of the year. How does this help Facebook? Data centers spend an enormous amount of money to stay cool, and colder ambient temperatures mean that cooling systems have a lot less work to do. Engineers plan to use outside air to cool the servers for up to 10 months of the year. In the other two months, Facebook will benefit some of the cheapest electricity in Europe. According to Facebook, the new facility will use approximately 70 percent less energy than a comparatively sized data center in the U.S., and the majority of energy it consumes will come from renewable sources. When it opens, the Lulea center will handle data from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which as of November 2010 accounted for 26.3 percent, 8.2 percent and 1.8 percent of Facebook’s active user base, respectively.