Facebook breaks ground on Meath data centre

Pictured left is Brian Fitzgerald, Meath County Council, Minister Damien English TD, Tom Furlong, Facebook, Martin Shanahan, IDA, and Jackie Maguire, Meath County Council. Picture (Image: Conor McCabe)



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6 April 2016 | 0

Facebook has broken ground on its new data centre in Clonee, county Meath, that will serve its users globally, on a par with existing US facilities, and Luleå in Sweden.

Present for the sod turning were Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, Tom Furlong, VP, Infrastructure, Facebook, Jackie Maguire, CEO, Meath County Council, Brian Fitzgerald, chairman, Meath County Council and Martin Shanahan, CEO IDA.

The site is almost 58,000 square meters (621,000sq ft), which is already expanded over initial plans.

Furlong, speaking to TechPro, said the Clonee facility will operate on the same tier as the major US facilities.


The new facility is almost 58,000 sq m and wil use indirect free cooling, a first for a Facebook data centre.

“We take global users and we allocate them to these different data centres and provision that if there is some kind of issue, to failover that user to another data centre that has sufficient capacity. So this will have a lot of the same gear, systems, software applications that Luleå has, or any of the big US centres.”

The site will be powered by renewable energy, the company confirmed, that will be wind generated from BrookfieldRenewable’s Irish operations. Brookfield owns and operates a portfolio of renewable wind energy projects across Ireland totalling 465 MW and all renewable wind energy supplying Facebook’s facilities in Ireland is located in Ireland.

“The new facility,” said Furlong, “will be one of the most advanced and energy-efficient data centres in the world thanks to its cutting-edge Open Compute technology and use of 100% renewable wind energy. The centre will be a crucial part of the infrastructure that helps Facebook connect billions of people around the world.”

Furlong said that the PUE rating of the facility will be sub 1.1

“We are in the 1.07 – 1.09 range. It gets a little seasonally adjusted, and it gets adjusted a bit on load, but basically it is sub 1.1.”

This puts the Clonee facility among the most efficient web-scale facilities in the world.

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English, TD, said that the country’s growing reputation for data centres is contributing to the expansion of the economy.

“This is contributing to Ireland becoming a major world player in this area and helping to embed and expand the operations of the major Internet companies located here. I welcome Facebook’s further commitment to Ireland with their investment in this Meath facility, and I wish Facebook and their employees further success in the future,” said the minister.

A key feature of the Clonee facility is that it will use indirect cooling, something that is not featured even in Facebook’s Texas and North Carolina centres.

“Unlike all of our other sites,” said Furlong, “which take outside air and push it directly into the data centre, this is a heat exchanger that takes the outside air to cool the inside air. We did that here because there is a little more salt content in the air. We place corrosion plates on the site and measure over time. It’s no so important for the servers, but I don’t want the facility having corrosion issues over its life, as it needs to survive for 20 plus years. So we decided to make that a design standard here.”

The design standard created may then be replicated in other sites still under evaluation, saving significantly in design costs, said Furlong.

“We are likely to repeat this design, say in places where there might be dust. This design is now a tool in the tool box that will allow us to deal with those kinds of conditions elsewhere in the world.”

“This was basically the design for Texas, modified for indirect cooling and then customised for European codes and standards. We only wanted to do that once to make sure we had a potential design that would then work in multiple locations being evaluated.”




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