Facebook to Build Its First Ever Data Center Outside the U.S. – In Sweden

The social networking giant, Facebook is planning to build a new multi-million ‘mini town’ data center in the northern Swedish town of Lulea – the first outside the US, in order to improve the performance of the European users. It is said to be the largest of its kind in Europe.

“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.”

It is reported that the social network will build three server halls, occupying an area the size of 11 football fields. The main reason why it is being set up in Lulea is because of the low climatic conditions, which is among the coldest city in Sweden, taking advantage of it to cool thousands of servers. It is also because the city offers low-cost electricity and the high-tech science research at the Lulea Technical University.

Mats Engman, chief executive of the Aurorum Science Park stated – “The climate will allow them to just use only air for cooling the servers. If you take the statistics, the temperature has not been above 30C [86F] for more than 24 hours since 1961. If you take the average temperature, it’s around 2C [35.6F].”

Facebook Director of Operations, Tom Furlong unveils plans for the new facility in Lulea in northern Sweden.
Facebook Director of Operations, Tom Furlong unveils plans for the new facility in Lulea in northern Sweden.

The servers will be powered by renewable sources of electricity generated by dams on the Lulea Reiver. According to The Telegraph, the operation will require as much electricity as a town of 50,000 people, at a cost of roughly $72.3 million per year.

The three server buildings will have an area of 28,000 square meters (300,000 square ft) each, and construction will take place in three phases. The construction of the first server hall starts later this month and the second will be built in 2013. The entire construction of the data center is expected to complete by 2014. The site will need 120 MW of energy, fully derived from hydropower.

Facebook, however, did not reveal the investment details, but according to Associated Press it is indicated that the Lulea officials have previously projected construction costs of up to $760 million. Facebook currently has server farms in Silicon Valley; Ashburn, Virginia; and Prineville, Oregon, as well as another one under construction in Forest City, North Carolina.

Back in 2007, Microsoft was in discussions to build a similar data center in Siberia, but the deal never happened. In 2009, Google bought a deserted paper mill in Southern Finland for approximately €40 million ($51.7 million) to convert it into a data center.

Now that Google and Facebook have server farms, I wonder who is next on the list. Probably, Amazon?

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Joel Fernandes

Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr. He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte. Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.