Facebook’s Irish Data Center To Use Open Computer Hardware & Renewables

  • District Energy in the News
  • 25 January 2016
  • by The Wall Street Journal

Article published in the Wall Street Journal


Facebook - WSJ

Facebook Inc. will build its newest data center in Ireland. The data center, the company’s second in Europe, will use Open Compute technology and run on renewable energy, according to a blog post by Tom Furlong, vice president for site operations at Facebook.


The data center in Clonee, just outside of Dublin where the company’s international headquarters is based, will benefit from the country’s wind power investments. The social networking company hopes to power 50% of its infrastructure worldwide with clean and renewable energy by the end of 2018.


Facebook has already broken ground on the facility and plans to handle social network traffic by the end of 2017 or early 2018.


U.S. tech companies, including rivals Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., have spent billions over the last several years building out data storage and processing facilities on European soil to improve service and reduce the need to transfer data to the U.S. Europe-based facilities can also makes life easier for companies not wanting to run afoul of local data privacy laws. The Clonee data center will be Facebook’s second in Europe after its data center in Luleå, Sweden opened in 2013.


The facility will contain all Open Compute Project server and storage hardware. That includes Yosemite, a new style of server Facebook unveiled in March, in collaboration with Intel Corp. That lets Facebook achieve better performance for the same amount of power. Also, Wedge top of rack network switches, introduced in June 2014, will be used in the new data center, along with an open modular switch platform called 6-pack.


The Open Compute Project is an industry coalition of companies that share blueprints for redesigning servers, racks, storage equipment and networking components to be ultra-efficient.


One benefit from the project’s approach to efficiency is that the resulting hardware uses less power. Facebook and other Internet giants have been looking at how to build more efficient data centers that can be powered by renewable energy to reduce energy consumption. As more of the world’s computing tasks have moved to the cloud, it has required Internet companies to build an increasing number of giant data centers, which is taxing the power grid and the environment.


Much like Apple and Google, Facebook is focusing on different kinds of renewable energy for its data centers. Facebook has previously announced the creation of three other data centers in the U.S. and Sweden powered entirely by clean and renewable energy including wind and hydropower.


Data centers are one of the largest and fastest growing consumers of electricity in the United States, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental action group founded in 1970. In 2013, U.S data centers consumed an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, equivalent to the annual output of 34 large coal-fired power plants. Data center electricity consumption is expected to increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020, the equivalent annual output of 50 power plants.

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