Facebook Opening Wind-Powered Data Center

The Fort Worth data center will be Facebook's fifth, powered by a renewable energy partnership.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

July 7, 2015

3 Min Read
Facebook Opening Wind-Powered Data Center

Facebook has started construction on its newest data center, its fifth, in Forth Worth, Texas, which the social network says will be entirely powered by renewable energy.

The new data center -- like its predecessors in Altoona, Iowa; Prinvelle, Ore.; Forest City, NC; and Lulea, Sweden -- will focus on efficiency and sustainability.

"Thanks to our continued focus on efficiency and our investments in renewables in recent years, the impact of one person's use of Facebook for an entire year is the same as the carbon impact of a medium latte," Facebook Infrastructure VP Tom Furlong said in a statement.

Facebook's work with data center design and other infrastructure efficiency have helped the company save more than $2 billion in infrastructure costs over the past three years, the statement says.

Figure 1: Data Center Rendering of Facebook's newly announced data center in Fort Worth, Texas. [Source: Facebook] Rendering of Facebook's newly announced data center in Fort Worth, Texas.
[Source: Facebook]

In choosing a location for a data center, Facebook looks for a "shovel-ready site with access to renewable energy, partnerships with the local community and a strong pool of local talent for construction and long-term operations staff," Ken Patchett, Facebook director of Data Center Operations, West Region, added in a statement on the Fort Worth Data Center's Facebook page.

The Fort Worth data center will incorporate Facebook's Open Compute Project hardware designs, including the Yosemite compute server, and Wedge and six-pack switches.

Facebook's Wedge is a top-of-rack switch that the social network has submitted to the OCP for open sourcing. 6-pack is a modular switch made up of 12 switching elements based on Wedge. (See Facebook in Production Testing of Open 'Wedge' Switch.)

Yosemite is a system-on-a-chip compute server designed to improve speed and serve Facebook traffic more efficiently. Facebook designed the server in conjunction with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX). (See Facebook Releases Data Center Tech.)

The Fort Worth Data Center will be cooled using outdoor air instead of energy-intensive air conditioners. "Yes, we can make that work, even in the middle of the kinds of summers we have here in Texas," Patchett writes.

The new data center will be powered by 100% renewable energy, due to 200 MW of new wind energy Facebook is bringing to the Texas grid as part of the deal, in partnership with Citigroup Energy, Alterra Power Corporation and Starwood Energy group.

Find out more about key developments related to the systems and technologies deployed in data centers on Light Reading's Data Center Infrastructure Channel.

Construction on the renewable energy project has begun on a 17,000-acre site in Clay County, 90 miles from the data center, "and we expect it to begin delivering clean energy to the grid by 2016," Patchett says. "200 MW is more energy than we will need for the foreseeable future."

Facebook relies on SDN and open source to power its service. It uses open source not just for software, but also for hardware design, through the Open Compute Project, which it co-founded. It builds its data centers around networking, using a non-hierarchical "fabric" of server pods with high-performance connectivity between them. (See Facebook Reinvents Data Center Networking.)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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