A Rare Look Inside Facebook’s Efficient And Frigid Data Center At The Arctic Circle

Facebook Data Center

While an auto repair shop might get away with employing a 25-year-old Commodore 64 to balance drive shafts, to run Facebook, the largest social network on the planet, it takes more modern equipment, and a lot of of it. Unfortunately, most people don't ever get to see it. Rarely do companies like Facebook ever lift the curtain and give us a glimpse of the technological wizardry running the show, but Mark Zuckerberg has decided to do exactly that, showcasing one of Facebook's chilly data centers located some 70 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

The data center resides in a small town called Luleå. It's not a location for warm weather people -- temperatures in the area fall below 50F degrees on most days. While that isn't conducive to people who like to bask in the sunshine with minimal clothing, one of the data center's workers says the biggest challenge is simply getting there when the temperature is -30C (-22F) degrees outside. However, it's an ideal location for a toasty data center, particularly one of the magnitude that's needed to keep Facebook's operations afloat.

Facebook Data Center Fans

Of course, cool weather alone isn't enough to keep Facebook's data center from burning up. The social network equipped the location with large fans to pull frigid air from the outside to naturally chill thousands of warm servers installed in the data center's broad hallways. In addition, a dozen hydro-electric plants pull water from rivers in the vicinity, offering up a renewable energy source. Zuckerberg says the whole system is 10 percent more efficient and uses nearly 40 percent less power than a traditional data center.

This is a big facility. Zuckerberg compares the size of the main building to that of six American football fields. It's home to about 150 employees—only one technician is needed for every 25,000 servers due to the simplified setup, as everything from the power distribution systems to the servers are based on Open Compute Project designs.

Facebook Data Center HDDs

As for user privacy, Zuckerberg says nothing leaves the site. Old hard drives get mutilated and destroyed on site. Once they've been pummeled beyond recovery, they're boxed up and presumably recycled, though that's us speculating (Zucker doesn't say what ultimately becomes of the destroyed HDDs).

In any event, it's a neat look at a portion of what makes posting photos of your dinner to Facebook possible. Hit the source link for more pics!