Photo tour of Facebook’s new datacenter

Facebook's datacenter in Prineville, Oregon, USA from the outside

Today I was very fortunate to have gotten a tour of Facebook’s new datacenter up in Prineville, Oregon (map). This datacenter is the most energy efficient in the world and only a handful of press got a look. We’ll have a video up after editing it, but here’s a look at the datacenter in photos. I shot all of these photos on an unmodified iPhone 4 with Instagram, that just got an update today. For the panoramic photos I was using Occipital’s 360 app.

Here’s the sight that we saw on arriving. Keep in mind this building is HUGE and there’s a sizable solar array out front (here’s a panoramic photo from inside that solar array), which doesn’t really power much of the datacenter, but powers some of the buildings around the site. Photos don’t really do it justice, but think about three average Walmarts put end-to-end :

Facebook's new datacenter. Huge!

Facebook is so big that it has its own flag:

Facebook has its own flag. Hangs in front of datacenter and the tour is over.

Walking in, yes, we are in the right place:

Sign in lobby of Facebook datacenter.

Just past the Facebook sign is a monitor in the lobby that shows you the state of the datacenter and how well the cooling systems are working:

Cooling chart at Facebook datacenter entrance.

Inside the security door the local community made these quilts, which is their interpretation of what a social network looks like:

Quilts done by local community in entranceway to Facebook datacenter.

Walking in Thomas Furlong, director of site operations at Facebook, brought us into a huge series of rooms which “process” the air. First room filters the air. Second room filters it further.

Here’s Thomas showing us one of the huge walls of filters (these filters are similar to the ones in my home heating system, except here Facebook has a wall of them).

Thomas Furlong, director of site operations at Facebook, shows us a huge wall of filters at its datacenter

Here’s a better shot of just how massive this filtering room is:

The air filter at Facebook datacenter. Big!

Then the air goes into a third room, one where the air is mixed to control humidity and temperature (if it’s cold outside, as it was today, they bring some heat up from inside the datacenter and mix it here) and on the other side, there’s a huge array of fans, each of which has a five horsepower motor (today the fans were moving at 1/3 speed, which makes them more efficient).

Here you can see the back sides of one of the huge banks of filters:

Air filters at Facebook's datacenter.

Here Thomas stands in front of the fans:

Facebook fans!

Here’s a closeup look at one of the fans that forces air through the datacenter and through the filtering/processing rooms:

Each fan has 5hp motor.

Finally, the air moves through one final step before going downstairs into the datacenter. In this final step small jets spray micro-packets of water into the air. As the water evaporates, which it does very rapidly, it cools the air. One room I didn’t take photos in was filled with pumps and reverse osmosis filters, which makes the water super pure so it works better when using it to cool in this way. One final set of filters makes sure no water gets into the datacenter. Here’s a closer look at the array of water jets:

Water cooling at Facebook data center.

Here you can see the scale of the room that sprays that water:

Filter room #2 at Facebook datacenter. Huge!

Here’s a closeup of one of the jets of cooling water:

Water-cooling jet at Facebook datacenter.

Finally we got to follow the air down into the datacenter where there was a huge floor with dozens of rows. Each row had rack after rack of servers.

Here Thomas stands in front of just one of those racks:

Tom Furlong gives us our first look at Open Compute servers at Facebook datacenter.

A look down the main corridor at Facebook's new datacenter

This 180-degree view gives you a look down the main corridor (on the side you can see is only half the datacenter — these are the newer “Open Compute” servers, the other half they asked us not to take pictures of, and that contained their older server technology).

If you click here you can see a panoramic photo of one of these rows.
Panoramic Photo of one of the rows of servers inside Facebook's new datacenter

What does this all mean? Well, for one, it brings jobs to Prineville, which is a small town with about 10,000 residents in a very rural county (we drove about half an hour through mostly farmland just to get to Prineville). But listen to Prineville’s mayor to hear what it means for her community.

Which brought up the question: why Prineville. The execs who showed me around today said they chose the site based on an exhaustive search for the perfect combination of low-seismic risks, cooler and mostly dry weather, access to power and Internet trunk lines (Prineville is an old railroad community, and fiber lines run under the railroads here) and a variety of other factors including low tax rates and friendly climate to business, etc.

Anyway, it’s not often that you get to see inside a modern datacenter. You’ll be reading more about this tour, since there were other journalists there as well, hope you enjoyed these early pictures.

By the way, why did Rackspace send me there? For those who don’t know, I’m a full-time employee of Rackspace which is the world’s biggest web hosting company.

Because we’re already building a datacenter based on the “Open Compute” plans that Facebook made and put into Open Source (the datacenter as well as the specs for the machines is all in open source now). More on Open Compute here. Plus we’re datacenter geeks so love seeing how other companies do it so we can learn from what they’ve done.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

115 thoughts on “Photo tour of Facebook’s new datacenter

  1. They have lots of smaller datacenters inside bigger colo spaces, but they are building several like this one. I believe the next will be in North Carolina.

  2. Those photos are great! Both the outside and the inside look imposing, with the clouds and those massive fans and stuff. Very amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  3. You are 100% correct! We get it from Bonneville Dam and the Wind Farm. We even supply most of California with electric too. A few years back California was having brown outs. The reason for that is that the state blew off paying the electric bill to Oregon so we cut their power by half. Its true. Research it. LOL

  4. Why on earth would you put your datacenters pictures on the web. Where is the security?
    I have seen some of facebooks outsourced datercenters and I am really not that impressed. I work at a datacenter and we never allow pictures or strangers at our site.

  5. This is SOOOOO exciting – what a brilliant post, Robert. You so rock. Thanks for bringing your travels and insider peeks to us. I loved your interview with Mayor Betty Roppe too – what a sweet lady she sounded like. Prineville must be ecstatic about this new addition to their economy. Plus, the magnitude of these servers and the infrastructure just shows how enormous Facebook is becoming!

  6. Man Facebook is just taking over. I don’t like that.

    Robert there’s something that’s bothered me about this blog for months. You don’t have it centered on the web page – it’s too far to the right. Is that intentional?

  7. Yeah, I agree with Dagg. Facebook uses a lot of power and tecnology to help people waste time. lol But actually, everything has a positive and a negative side. With Facebook, people had the access to a great business tool and communication line.

  8. It was around 70 degrees, if I remember right. They said they are going to try to run at about 85 most of the time. It wasn’t very cold, although the air outside was fairly cold that day.

  9. so much power and technology, only to waste time (mostly during working hours). Hmm :)

    Strange new world

  10. It is pretty amazing to see what goes into the back end infrastructure like Facebook. Many people don’t realize what it really takes to keep a site like that up and running.

  11. Wow! They essentially made the entire building into the computer case with filters and fans. The motherboards are just laying in racks. It’s a giant super computer with tiny people walking around inside! Thanks for the photos Robert. Very cool!

  12. porque el camino aun no lo conocemos, unamonos para que aquellos que ya recorrieron y cayeron se vuelvan a parar, no nos hagamos el camino mas dificil,unamonos en una sola fuerza, para una mejor dignidad de vida.Porque estamos en busca de una inclusion, de un trato con derechos, por la lucha de una vida digna.los invito a unirse a esta linda causa por los discapacitados. Sitio web:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/AVE-FENIX-DISCAPACITADOS-EN-BUSCA-DEL-RENACIMIENTO-SOCIAL/169970189718622
    http://www.blogger.com/home
    http://wanm25.wordpress.com/wp-admin/po
    http://www.linkedin.com/updates?&trk=msi

  13. porque el camino aun no lo conocemos, unamonos para que aquellos que ya recorrieron y cayeron se vuelvan a parar, no nos hagamos el camino mas dificil,unamonos en una sola fuerza, para una mejor dignidad de vida.Porque estamos en busca de una inclusion, de un trato con derechos, por la lucha de una vida digna.los invito a unirse a esta linda causa por los discapacitados. Sitio web:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/AVE-FENIX-DISCAPACITADOS-EN-BUSCA-DEL-RENACIMIENTO-SOCIAL/169970189718622
    http://www.blogger.com/home
    http://wanm25.wordpress.com/wp-admin/po
    http://www.linkedin.com/updates?&trk=msi

  14. Prineville, OR, seems to me hosted a BMW Motorcycle Owners National Rally a few years ago. It really is in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like a good place to build a datacenter.

  15. Prineville, OR, seems to me hosted a BMW Motorcycle Owners National Rally a few years ago. It really is in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like a good place to build a datacenter.

  16. I disagree. First of all there isn’t anything around the town except for farms. So the impact of a huge building is minimal. Second of all, it brought TONS of construction jobs and money to the town. Third of all you now know about Prineville, you would never have heard about this town otherwise. Fourth of all the hotels and restaurants in town say their business has started going up for the first time in years. Fifth, the jobs at the datacenter pay at least 150% of other jobs in town. Sixth, there will be a constant stream of visitors to this location, both Facebook employees who need to work on various hardware, but also other visitors, they will add money into the local economy. Seventh, I bet that over the next five years several other companies locate their datacenters here. Why? Facebook already did the hard work to prove the location is great. Which will bring more construction jobs, etc to the area.

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