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Facebook tour: Where your 'friends' hang out

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Feb 21 2013 09:58:06 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 21 2013 10:09:53 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin spoke with Facebook officials at their data center in Prineville about completing building two, a cold storage facility and their own weather system.

PRINEVILLE, Ore. -

A second data center is almost complete, a third building is going up, all with their own weather system -- a few of the latest developments at Facebook's Prineville data center.

Every time people log into Facebook, they are not alone. With more than 1 billion users, and a lot of computers, a lot of power is needed. That's where data centers like the one in Prineville come in.

"All your photos and your friends status updates, your messages -- they pull it all together in a few hundredths of a millisecond," Communications Manager Michael Kirkland said Wednesday during a media tour of the usually very private facility.

Room after room, filled with blinking lights and servers, holds updates and photos. But for all those old pictures from the past, they will soon be going to a "cold storage" facility that's under construction.

"Over time, those photos see less activity, and we we want to find a way where we can store those older photos in a very energy efficient way," Kirkland said.

But all those servers can get very hot. While many data centers might use air conditioning, in Prineville they have a different plan that keeps them very "green." They create their own climate, where they pull air from outside and cool down the servers.

"The hot air is coming in from the data center, the outside air is coming in -- we'll mix it and bring it into the right temperature if needed," said data center Manager Joshua Crass. "It goes through a series of filters, then it goes into the cooling room, where the air is measured for humidity."

With more people signing up for a Facebook account every day, there's still a lot of work to be done in Prineville.

"The shell of the building is complete, and we've started to put servers into Building (wing) 2-A and some into B," Crass said. "And C and D are still under construction, and should be finished up by July of this year."

From the building's rooftop, it's easy to spot nearby big, black walls where Apple is building it's data center.

It's another big sign that Central Oregon's cool climate is becoming a hot spot for data centers.

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