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Facebook locates European data centre in North Sweden for ambient cooling

Cliff Saran

Facebook is building a new data centre in Luleå, North Sweden, which has a sub-Artic climate that will be used to provide the servers with ambient cooling.

The social media site said it has switched from leasing data centres and equipment to build its own infrastructure to support growth.

"Back in early 2009, we came to a crossroads for our infrastructure. At that point, we were leasing space in data centres designed for general purpose computing - meaning we were getting average efficiency at average cost. Facebook was growing rapidly - the site had 150 million active users at the beginning of 2009, a number that increased to more than 350 million by the end of that year," the company said.

The data centre will house custom servers, software, power supplies, and other data centre equipment, based on the Open Compute Project. The Open Compute Project specifies dual Xeon 5500 or AMD Opteron 6100 motherboards with 450w power supplies, Facebook said the approach it has taken will give it total control over three critical parts of its infrastructure: the data centre design, the server design and the software.

The data centre draws 70% of its power from renewable energy sources and, according to Facebook, needs less backup generators.

Facebook says the location offers a climate that allow the data centre to use outside air for cooling for eight to 10 months of the year, leading to a significant reduction in energy consumption. The site also provides a power infrastructure using independent sources that are directly connected to the national grid. Facebook says this allows it to limit its generator topology, which means there is less need for dual redundant substations.

"The redundant substations allow us to reduce the number of generators installed by approximately 70% and minimise the environmental impact due to reduced emission and fuel storage."

Excess heat from the servers will be captured and re-used to heat office space in the facility during the colder months. Facebook says it is also using a proprietary uninterruptible power supply (UPS) capable of reducing energy usage by 12%.

Altogether, Facebook expects the facility to have a PUE (power usage effective) measurement of 1.07.


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