Nearly 2 billion people across the globe log into Facebook for everything from avocado toast recipes to marketing their businesses. Moving all that information requires some serious hardware, and the social media giant has just opened the first three buildings of Facebook’s largest data storage facility to date.
“To some extent this data center is a size and scale that works for us; it is physically one of the largest we’ve built,” Tom Furlong, vice president of infrastructure at Facebook, said at the facility’s grand opening on May 4. “We’ve just evolved over time to try to figure out what is going to scale best long term."
That scale is enormous. Here are some figures to help illustrate this facility's size and impact, as it starts moving traffic.
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The data center operating today is spread over 440,000 square feet. That's impressive, but the center will grow with three more similarly sized buildings. Building number two is set to be active by the end of the year, while 750 construction workers are on-site daily to build the third. By the time construction is complete, four to five years from now, the site will house more than 2 million square feet of server space across 150 acres.
KC Timmons, site manager for the Fort Worth Data Center, said the facility is one of the most advanced and energy efficient data centers in the world. The facility uses an evaporative cooling system the will forgo the need for refrigerants and will utilize the windy Fort Worth weather to cool an eventual tens of thousands of servers. These facilities are also notoriously power hungry, so 200 megawatts of wind power will run through the Texas grid to power the facility. Hardware built using Facebook’s Open Compute Project platform should cut down on server repair time and power consumption. “The hardware is designed for our specifications for our family of applications," Timmons says."You limit the power usage, you limit compute power, you use limited storage, you’re not wasting any resources."
Building a facility means planning ahead. The additional data processing power will also allow Facebook to meet the new demand for immersive technologies such as Facebook live and virtual/augmented reality. "You want these data centers to be useful and relevant, from a physical infrastructure standpoint, for 20 to 30 years," Furlong says. "They have to have the flexibility to be able to grow with us as server technology changes."