Facebook confirms state-of-the-art data center in Iowa

With 1 billion users and growing, the social network needs more servers to keep up with the constant flux of information.

A model of Facebook's new data center in Altoona, Iowa. Facebook

Rumors have been confirmed that the new massive data center to be built in Altoona, Iowa, will be owned by none other than Facebook.

The social network announced Tuesday that the 194-acre site will be the home of its fourth wholly-owned and operated data center worldwide.

"For most people, Facebook is something pretty simple. It's a service you visit every day to connect with the people and things you care about," Facebook's vice president of infrastructure engineering Jay Parikh wrote in a blog post. "But behind the scenes, Facebook is a global service of immense scale and complexity -- over 1 billion people use Facebook every month, and every day there are more than 2.7 billion Likes and over 2.4 billion content items shared with friends."

In order to handle all of those users liking, posting photos, and sharing content, Facebook needs to make sure its technical infrastructure is up to speed -- which means more servers.

According to Facebook, the new data center will utilize Open Compute Project server designs, which use open-source data center designs to speed hardware innovation and reduce the environmental impact of cloud computing. It will also have an outdoor-air cooling system, networking architecture, and be built to LEED Gold standards.

"When complete, Altoona will be among the most advanced and energy efficient facilities of its kind," Parikh wrote.

According to the office of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Facebook will invest at least $299.5 million in the project. The first phase will be the construction of a 476,000-square-foot building to house the data center; however, the nearly 200-acre site could accommodate up to two more data center buildings in the future.

In return for creating new jobs and investing in Iowa, Facebook will get $18 million in tax benefits, according to Branstad's office.

Besides Altoona, Facebook also has data centers in Prineville, Ore., Forest City, N.C. , and Lulea, Sweden. The social network plans to break ground in Iowa this summer and have the facility up and running by 2014.

About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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