Facebook Builds Data Center In Arctic Circle

In an effort, that will improve performance for European users of the social networking site, Facebook will build a new server farm on the edge of the Arctic Circle, officials said Thursday. It will be the companies first outside the United States.

After reviewing potential locations across Europe, Facebook confirmed it had picked the northern Swedish city of Lulea for the data center partly because of the cold climate, crucial for keeping the servers cool, and access to renewable energy from nearby hydropower facilities. The move also reflects the growing international presence of the California-based site, which counts 800 million users worldwide.

“Facebook has more users outside the U.S. than inside,” Facebook director of site operations Tom Furlong told The Associated Press. “It was time for us to expand in Europe.”

He said European users would get better performance from having a node for data traffic closer to them in the Arctic Circle. Facebook currently stores data at sites in California, Virginia and Oregon and is building another facility in North Carolina. The Lulea data center, which will consist of three 300,000-square foot server buildings, is scheduled for completion by 2014. The site will need 120 MW of energy, fully derived from hydropower.

Located 60 miles south of the Arctic Cicle, Lulea lies near hydropower stations on a river that generates twice as much electricity as the Hoover Dam on the border of Nevada and Arizona, Facebook said. In case of a blackout, construction designs call for each building to have 14 backup diesel generators with a total output of 40 MW.

With winter temperatures well below freezing and summertime highs that rarely climb above 80F (25 degrees Celcius), Lulea has used its frigid climate as a selling point in its efforts to establish itself as a hub for server farms. Other Nordic cities have adopted similar strategies.

Cost for the Facebook Arctic Circle location site is estimated to be around 760 million dollars. The Swedish government said it was ready to pitch in with $16 million.

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