Facebook reportedly the mystery mover behind 'Project Catapult'

The social network is the mysterious company behind a billion-dollar-plus data facility in Iowa, says a report. Apple had also been among the suspects named by data detectives.

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Facebook seems to be behind what one ubertechie blog calls "one of the longest-running mysteries in the data center industry."

The company is reportedly looking at building a $1.5 billion data facility in Altoona, Iowa -- an effort previously referred to by state and local officials as the rather cloak-and-dagger sounding "Project Catapult."

The Des Moines Register cited legislative sources in reporting the news, in a story that was picked up by insider data blog Data Center Knowledge.

The Register reported that the facility is being touted as "the most technologically advanced" in the world and that the 1.4 million square foot project is expected to be built in two $500 million phases. Data Center Knowledge says the facility will include three 466,000 square foot data centers.

Government officials have reportedly given a green light to the project and are hashing out details such as tax credits and other incentives. Facebook is seeking wind energy production tax credits, and a new payment rate on water is also part of the negotiations, the stories said.

Data Center Knowledge reports that Facebook had been suspected as the mystery company because the site plan submitted to officials in Altoona resembles those of Facebook data projects in Oregon and North Carolina. However, possible use of solar arrays and fuel cells in the projects had also raised speculation that Apple might be the mysterious dealer in data. Iowa has been competing with Nebraska for the facility, which that other state -- not to be outdone on the secrecy front -- has labeled "Project Edge."

The facility would be the third major data center project in Iowa, joining complexes from Google and Microsoft. It would also be Facebook's fourth such project, behind existing data facilities in Oregon, North Carolina, and Sweden.